December 6, 2013 (BENTIU) – Tributes have flowed in Unity state for the former South African president Nelson Mandela, with many residents describing him as an icon for democracy in Africa and throughout the world.
Mandela died in Johannesburg Thursday at age 95 after a long illness.
Many residents contacted by Sudan Tribune on Friday said they felt deep sorrow over the former leader’s passing.
Matik Kuong, a resident from Daresalam village in Unity capital Bentiu, Mandela stood as an example of peace and democracy throughout the African continent.
He described Mandela as an incomparable and charismatic leader, who made enormous personal sacrifices to achieve his vision.
“I wish we had more than five Mandela’s in Africa”, he said.
Hannah Wamutu, a Kenyan national trading in Unity state, says she was impressed with Mandela’s struggle against apartheid in South Africa and his efforts to improve the lives of black people in his country.
She said Mandela would be remembered most for his long fight for freedom and independence.
“He has been an icon in the whole of Africa and we have to celebrate his death as our Continent Godfather [and] the example he show to [the] world”, said Wamutu.
James Juoi, a Payinjiar county resident in Bentiu town, said he had been saddened to learn of Mandela’s death.
He said the leader had laid the foundations for democracy across the African continent as a whole and was an example for other leaders to follow.
Tonny Sentigue, a Ugandan businessman in Bentiu Kalibalek market, described Mandela as a selfless and influential leader with a “deep heart”, who had taken the first critical steps to ending apartheid in South Africa.
“This is just something unheard off [for] the African nations, and we shall always remember him on that,” he said.
Mandela spent 27 years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the government, before he won an election in 1994 to become the first black South African president. He went on to steer South Africa from oppressive apartheid rule towards multi-racial democracy.
South Sudanese officials have yet to make any official response to Mandela’s death on Thursday night, despite citizens across the country expressing sorrow at the late leader’s passing.
The new nation’s leadership also elected not to lower its flag in the capital Juba, despite nations such as the United States and China flying their flags at half-mast in recognition of Mandel’s struggle for human dignity.
Meanwhile, South Sudan Human Rights for Advocacy (SSHURSA) released a statement praising Mandela as an iconic leader who fought for of justice, peace and humanity.
“(…) his zeal, courage and thirst for a just, equal, equitable, human rights and rule of law abiding society shall remain a burning candle in the hearts and minds of all those who work for the good of humanity, the universality of human rights and rule of law”, the statement read in part.
South Africa has declared a week of national mourning in honour of Mandela, including an open-air memorial service at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium