Liberian government officials on the morning of Tuesday, December 10, arrived in numbers to sign the Book of Condolence for fallen Africa and South Africa’s icon, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Mr. Mandela, who also goes by his clan name, Madiba, departed this world on Tuesday, December 5, 2013, at around 20:50 GMT, South African President Mr. Jacob Zuma announced to the world. Madiba was 95.
The Liberian officials, including the Speaker and members of the National Legislature, and members of the Cabinet, were led to the signing ceremony by Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai.
A few minutes after VP Boakai signed the Book, he told newsmen and women that Madiba’s loss “is a great loss not only for Africa but for the world at-large.”
In spite of this loss, however, he said “it was also a celebration for the world,” in view of the extraordinary life and lifestyle Mandela led. “No one else in his country or anywhere in the world can easily be compared to him,” the Vice President said.
As they signed the Book of Condolence, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf joined other world leaders attending the South African Government’s Memorial Service at the First National Bank (FNB) Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa.
According to VP Boakai, the message President Sirleaf took to the people of South Africa was that Liberia is blessed to have had early contacts with this “…renowned person. We were fortunate to have interacted with him and the country. So all of us are celebrating his life and thanking God for making him available to us.”
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Alex Tyler, the Acting Chair of the Cabinet and Finance Minister, Mr. Amara Konneh, Foreign Minister and Dean of the Cabinet, Mr. Augustine K. Ngafuan, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai and the Ministers of Education, Health and Social Welfare and Post and Telecommunications, among others, formed part of the Vice President’s delegation.
US Ambassador Deborah Malac and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Resident Representative, Ms. Ratidzai Ndhlovu were also there to sign the Book.
Speaker Alex Tyler declared that Liberians need to learn from Mr. Mandela’s example of being a reconciler.
“On our way to becoming leaders today, some of us offended some people or someone offended us; but in taking our positions, we need to bring everyone on board and reconcile our differences,” he suggested.
The mood in the hall was somber as South Africa’s Ambassador greeted the officials of the Liberian Government who had queued to sign the book of condolence.
The South African envoy to Liberia, Ambassador Masilo E. Mabeta, told journalists that his country has received a lot of messages of condolence—meaning that what Madiba lived for is understood and embraced, and is going to be continued by the people of Liberia.
Ambassador Mabeta added that the world is going to miss Mandela but it is going to have him through his ideas, what he stood for and it will come to embrace his values for everyone, irrespective of race or creed.
Nelson Mandela spent time in Liberia during the days of the liberation struggle in South Africa, even carrying a Liberian passport.
Liberia’s contribution to the liberation struggle around Africa cannot be over-emphasized and is well-noted in history.