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Nelson Mandela tributes flood in across East Lancs
TRIBUTES to former South African president Nelson Mandela have been made by many in East Lacashire whose hearts were touched by the Nobel Peace Prize winner.
East Lancashire residents who had met the esteemed politician, who campaigned against apatheid and spent 27 years in prison, said he was a ‘towering figure’.
Hussein Kajee, who was born in South Africa and grew up in Pietermeritzberg, spoke of his sadness after Mandela’s death.
When Hussein was in his early twenties he met Mandela at a welcoming party held in the town after he was released from prison.
Hussein said: “It’s very sad, I’m very upset. It’s a big loss for the whole of the people of South Africa, for the world.
“He was loved by people all over the world.
“It was an honour and a pleasure to meet a person like that, especially when he had just been freed after spending so much of his life in jail.”
Local politicians also spoke of the influence Mandela had on their careers.
Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: “I have had the privilege of meeting Nelson Mandela on a number of occasions and he was a remarkable man.
“He was one of the towering figures of the 20th century and 21st century, and probably the last millennium, if not the most significant figure, and it is quite remarkable for him to have almost achieved sainthood while he was alive. People will still be talking about him in a thousand years.
“He not only changed South Africa, but he changed the way that non-white people have been treated worldwide.”
Former Burnley MP Peter Pike said: “He was an inspiration to us all for reconciliation and peace. A great loss to not only South Africa but all the world.
“Our prayers are with all his family and his beloved rainbow nation of South Africa.”
Lancashire sports stars who had met the former president also gave their consdolences.
Burnley defender Ben Mee said, “sad news about a great man”, as he tweeted a picture of himself shaking hands with Mandela, while former footballer John O’ Kane , who lives in Darwen and met Mandela in 1993 when he travelled with the Manchester United youth team to Johannesburg, described him as a great man.
He said: “It was an honour to meet Nelson Mandela, it was an incredible moment. He was a great man and meeting him is something that I will never forget for the rest of my life. As a prisoner who then became the president of South Africa, it certainly changed the world and his legacy will live on.”
Mandela died on the same day as a film about his life premiered in London.
The film, ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’, was directed by Lancashire-born Justin Chadwick, who attended Turton High School.
Mandela’s daughter Zindzi Mandela was present at the premier alongside celebrities, actors and the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge, who turned out to watch the film in Leicester Square.
During the screening she was told her 95-year-old father had died peacefully at home, and fellow audience members were informed after the show.
A book of condolences has been opened at Blackburn Cathedral for those wishing to pay their respects. It will remain open until 5pm on Sunday.
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