Hundreds of people from all walks of life attended the national memorial service for the late former South African President, Nelson Mandela at the Centenary Church in Suva today.
President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau who spoke on behalf of the government and the people of Fiji shared his experience when he met Mandela on two occasions when he represented Fiji at the British Commonwealth Ex-Servicemen’s league meeting, and during his state visit to London when he was the Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Ratu Epeli said he encountered a humble man of great presence and an infectious personality and those moments will be cherished in his memory.
He added there was something profound about Nelson Mandela that resonated with Fijians and that was his amazing capacity for forgiveness.
Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has reminded all Fijians on our own path under the new Constitution for everyone to remember Madiba’s words and for Fiji to embrace his way of thinking if we are to build a nation that is more just, more equal, and more united.
Ratu Epeli stressed that discrimination and inequality of any kind no longer have a place in Fiji, just as they no longer have a place in South Africa.
However, the President said for Fiji to move into a new era we should all commit ourselves to following the path lit by Madiba and embrace each other for a new future.
Also present at the service were Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Minister for Youth and Sports Commander Viliame Naupoto, members of the diplomatic corps and religious leaders.
Meanwhile, Nelson Mandela’s body has been laid to rest in a family plot, after political and religious leaders paid tribute to South Africa's former president at a state funeral service.
Mandela died aged 95.