By John Agaba
The legacy that Mandela has left behind is a challenge to all leaders, the archbishop of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali, has said.
In a memorial service in honour of the fallen first black South African president at All Saints Cathedral in Nakasero Kampala Friday, Ntagali said that Mandela posed a big challenge for “our leaders to emulate, not to be self-centered, but to serve humanity.”
The service was organized by the South African High Commission in Kampala.
Ntagali said Mandela was a great statesman, a peace lover, a peace maker and a peacekeeper.
“He is remembered for tolerance, love and forgiveness — virtues that are a lesson for all leaders in Africa and the whole world,” said the archbishop.
“He may not be here now, but he still communicates to us through his love.”
The service was attended by many leaders, including Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, Premier Amama Mbabazi, third deputy premier Moses Ali, health minister Ruhakana Rugunda and a couple others.
Leader of opposition in Parliament Nandala Mafabi, the Kenyan High Commissioner to Uganda, Geoffrey Okanga, and the South African High Commissioner Jon Qwelane too attended.
Vice President Edward Ssekandi described Mandela as a special person, whose works have left an indelible trail and mark in the history of humanity.
He said that Ugandans were proud to join their brothers and sisters in South Africa to pray and bid farewell to Africa’s hero of all humanity, saying, “Mandela was a true son of Africa.”
Ssekandi said Mandela was an embodiment of humanity regardless of colour or social strata and stood as a giant and hero adding that his simplicity and statesman hood drew the world together to appreciate Mandela as a true patriot.
He said the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government will continue to foster the brotherly relations with the African National Congress (ANC) and the people of South Africa in promoting the values of equality, justice, freedom and reconciliation that Mandela stood for.
In his speech, Qwelane expressed concern over the manner in which Uganda’s Parliament handled the recognition of late Mandela saying it was only in Uganda where such demeaning tribute has been made to the former President.
He said that while it was prudent for Parliament to open a condolence book for the public to sign it would have been courteous if it was done in consultation with the South African High Commission.
Amana Mbabazi, however, explained that the ‘confusion’ was because they had already organized a cabinet retreat at the time Parliament debated paying tribute to “Comrade Mandela.”
He said that the greatest achievement of the Mandela fight was the restoration of the dignity of the black person.
Geoffrey Okanga said that Mandela brought racism as a social injustice to an end.
“His name can only be talked about with those who brought slave trade and colonialism to an end, the likes of Benjamin Mkapa, Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Nkrumah and other statesmen.
Mandela died Thursday December 5. He was 95.
The former President will be laid to rest in his home village, Qunu, on Sunday December 15.
During the service, speaker after speaker praised Mandela’s contribution to Africa, saying he was an exceptional gift to humanity.
At one point the laity went into song that “Mandela, there is no one like you.”
Justice James Ogoola recited a poem in honor of Nelson Mandela. Mandela. It chronicled Mandela’s life as a son of a chief, a human rights advocate, a freedom fighter, and a peace maker.