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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Madiba we love you

That wonderful elder statesman Nelson Mandela was honoured yesterday by the unveiling a statue yesterday in London's Parliament Square. There are many statues in our Nation's Capital, but this is, I think one of the most deserving to be remembered in this way.
Its creator, the British sculptor Ian Walters, did not live to see it being unveiled. He died last year.
Amid shouts of "we love you" from the crowd that thronged the road and hung from office block windows, the 89-year-old former South African president and his third wife, Graca Machel, made a dame for her own humanitarian work, were visibly moved at the reception.
Despite being supported by a cane, Mr Mandela took to the stage to address the crowd. He said: "We never dreamed we would all be here today. Though this statue is of one man, it should in actual fact symbolise all those who have resisted oppression, especially in my country."
[Daily Telegraph on line]
Mandela still has much to do, not least in trying to persuade his successor, President Thabo Mbeki who has been a scandalous failure to confront the scourge of HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa. And there are worrying signs that the situation is about to get worse. Last week, South Africa’s deputy health minister, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, was fired by President Mbeki.
Madlala-Routledge was one of the driving forces behind a plan to extend anti-retroviral treatment to 80 percent of those with AIDS by 2011. This focus is exactly what South Africa’s AIDS program had been lacking. But now Madlala-Routledge has gone, there is a serious danger that the momentum toward this goal will be lost.

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