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UWC hails ‘great statesman’ Mandela

Former South African President Nelson Mandela waves to the crowd during a ceremony to make him an honorary Canadian citizen, at the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, in this November 19, 2001 file photo. REUTERS/Shaun Best/Files (CANADA POLITICS HEADSHOT)

Former South African President Nelson Mandela waves to the crowd during a ceremony to make him an honorary Canadian citizen, at the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, in this November 19, 2001 file photo. REUTERS/Shaun Best/Files (CANADA POLITICS HEADSHOT)

Published Dec 6, 2013

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Cape Town - Former president Nelson Mandela was a great statesman, a truly democratic president and a passionate freedom fighter who was committed to enhancing South Africa, the University of the Western Cape (UWC) said on Friday.

“UWC is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our beloved former president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela,” vice chancellor and rector Brian O’Connell said in a statement.

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Mandela received his first South African honorary doctorate from UWC on November 28, 1990.

On receiving it, he said: “The challenges are enormous and the tasks ahead may appear daunting, but the future of our country and our people beckons us all to great deeds.

“Let us move forward with vision, with courage and determination as we educate for empowerment.”

Mandela developed a close relationship with UWC, and in 1994, the university's former rector and vice chancellor, the late Jakes Gerwel, was appointed director general in the Mandela presidency.

Several Cabinet members appointed during his term of office were from UWC, and after 1994, Madiba praised UWC for having transformed itself from an apartheid ethnic institution into a proud national asset.

“Mandela will be remembered for his many contribution... and the remarkable work that he has done to change South Africa for the better,” O'Connell said.

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“His life is testimony to his commitment to freedom and his determination to stand up for his beliefs at a time when so many were afraid to do so, and despite having to pay a tremendous personal price as a result.”

UWC conveyed its condolences to Mandela's widow Graca Machel and the rest of the Mandela family, and also to the people of South Africa.

Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, on Thursday night, at the age of 95.

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