Nelson Mandela: Stellenbosch University pays tribute to icon of liberation and reconciliation
“The best way to celebrate the life of former President Nelson Mandela is to ensure that his legacy lives on in future generations of South Africans who, unlike us, will not have the privilege of his living example. We pay tribute to an influential leader, a remarkable statesman and icon of liberation and reconciliation. South Africa, our continent and our world today lost a role-model and symbol of ethical leadership. We owe it to him that South Africans may never forget what he sacrificed in the interest of justice and freedom,” Prof Russel Botman, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University said in reaction to the news that former President Mandela had passed away.
Prof Botman expressed his condolences to the Mandela family and his spouse, Dr. Graca Machel. Like her husband, she also received an honorary doctorate from Stellenbosch University. “Our country’s people owe Dr Machel a debt of gratitude for her supporting role in the period after his release from prison and during his last years. While he was in public office it was remarkable to observe her presence in the background, caringly supporting him.”
“For our country’s youth and our university’s students there is no better example than former President Mandela. Difficult circumstances did not deter him from completing his studies and as a principled leader he dedicated his life to democracy and justice, even when it was to his own detriment. His life was characterised by respect for and tolerance towards people’s points of view, language, culture and religion – the same ethos that we value at Stellenbosch University,” Prof Botman said. “He played a pivotal role in the creation of our country’s Constitution, and like the Constitution, he has built a bridge between our divided past and our shared future.
“By honouring Madiba with the degree, Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa on 25 October 1996, Stellenbosch University acknowledged the man who has become a living symbol of empowerment through learning, of peace and reconciliation through negotiation, and of respect for those values which make a just and humane society possible.”
In celebration of International Mandela Day on 18th July 2013, the University of Stellenbosch suspended 9 large 3 by 6 meter banners to grace the buildings and surrounding streets of the University’s Campus. The Banners feature a portrait of Nelson Mandela painted by South African portrait painter Marc Alexander. They have remained up as a tribute to commemorate the former President’s passing on 5 December 2013.