Brown heaps praise on 'a forgiving, playful Mandela'

SOUTH Africa's fight against apartheid has heartening lessons for those battling climate change and other challenges, the British premier said yesterday on the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release.

SOUTH Africa's fight against apartheid has heartening lessons for those battling climate change and other challenges, the British premier said yesterday on the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release.

In a newspaper article to mark 20 years since Mandela walked free from jail, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the campaign to end white rule in South Africa proved what people could do when they joined forces.

He said the anti-apartheid struggle was the "defining political question of our time" and also heaped praise on Mandela as "forgiving, playful, utterly gracious and with a generosity of spirit that lifts the world".

"The lesson of the South African struggle is surely that change never comes without a fight, but when we fight, progressives can change the course of history," he wrote in the Independent newspaper.

"That is exactly the lesson we should heed as we tackle the great global causes of today; poverty, climate change, terrorism, nuclear proliferation.

"Thirty years ago today nobody would ever have believed that apartheid would crumble, but 20 years ago today Nelson Mandela walked into the sunlight a free man at last."

Meanwhile, the leader of Britain's main opposition Conservatives, David Cameron, came under pressure to explain a trip he took while a young researcher to South Africa in 1989, paid for by anti-sanctions lobbyists.

The visit was disclosed in an updated biography of the Tory leader - who is on course to win elections due by early June - published last year, but anti-apartheid campaigners used the Mandela anniversary to demand an apology.

Party officials refused to comment, noting only their response to the revelation last year in which they argued that the visit was a chance for Cameron to "see for himself" what conditions in South Africa were like. - Sapa-AFP

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