Nelson Mandela’s character was “extraordinarily sweet” and he had no hard feelings for anyone including his jailers, veteran politician and former House President Vassos Lyssarides said yesterday.
Speaking to The Cyprus Weekly after Mandela’s death at the age of 95, Lyssarides who knew and met the Peace Nobel laureate winner and South Africa’s former president added:
“He was one of the greatest personalities and he managed to abolish a long time regime of discrimination which was an insult to humanity and to create a regime of reconciliation among people not only in South Africa but elsewhere.”
The veteran politician said that he was general secretary of ICSA (International Committee in Solidarity with South Africa) which worked vigorously for Mandela’s release and the end of the apartheid in South Africa.
Lyssarides was also Vice-President of the Afro-Asian People’s Solitarily Organisation (A.A.P.S.O).
“We organised many protests in Europe and South Africa for Mandela’s liberation and even though I was not allowed to travel to South Africa to meet him at the time he knew all about me.”
"On his liberation, he notified me immediately and I travelled to London to meet him and we also met three times in South Africa,” Lyssarides said.
When Mandela was in prison, Oliver Tambo, Acting President of the African National Congress (ANC) visited Cyprus at the invitation of Lyssarides.
There was a close friendship between them and they cooperated in many international and national meetings.
President Nicos Anastasiades sent a message of condolence to South African president Jacob Zuma for the death of the country’s former leader.
“It is with the most profound sorrow that we received the sad news of the passing away of Nelson Mandela, the former President, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and symbol of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa,” Anastasiades said referring to Mandela as the father of the South African nation and a monumental figure of the 20th century.
“In these difficult times, we stand in full solidarity with the friendly government and people of South Africa,” he added.
Anastasiades said Mandela’s successful contribution to ending the apartheid in his country and creating a new democratic South Africa based on the rule of law, freedom of speech and free and fair elections is the gift he offered to his people and to humanity.