Former Burnley MP Peter Pike has paid tribute to Nelson Mandela – the father of the modern South African nation – who passed away Thursday evening aged 95.
Mr Pike, who was a Labour MP for Burnley from 1983 until 2005 and member of the anti-apartheid movement for more than 50 years, described the death as a “a great loss to not only South Africa, but all the world”.
Nelson Mandela, a former political prisoner, freedom fighter, president and a global icon who freed his country and became an inspiration to billions, passed away at home after a long illness.
His death was announced to the world by a tearful President Jacob Zuma who said: “Our nation has lost its greatest son”.
Paying tribute, Mr Pike said: “Nelson Mandela was an inspiration to us all for reconciliation and peace. A great loss to not only South Africa, but all the world.”
He added: “Having been a member of anti-apartheid for over 50 years and having been to South Africa several times with Simon Hughes (deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats) and Alastair Burt (Conservative MP) to try and help end apartheid, I am very sad to hear of Nelson Mandela’s death. Our prayers are with all his family and his beloved rainbow nation of South Africa. The greatest tribute to him will be to ensure that the South Africa he led as President lives up to the ideals and ambitions for which he gave his life.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle, who said: “He inspired everyone in the world of equality and democracy and was one of the most dramatic people I have heard. His passion to ensure that South Africa went from white minority rule to full democracy in his lifetime is remarkable.”