Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95. The whole Africa mourns the loss of a father. Everywhere, in Africa and the world, the Community of Sant'Egidio will gather in prayer to remember Nelson Mandela and for peace; moments of prayer and commemoration are planned in the major cities of South Africa.
Nelson Mandela belongs to that small number of men who help the world to be better when it is animated by the sense of common good. Madiba, as Mahatma Gandhi and John XXIII, has shown with his life that words like justice, freedom, forgiveness, equality, reconciliation, peace are not naïve dreams. We mourn the father of Africa.
We remember the 27 years of captivity during which he bore witness to the victims of apartheid and showed everyone the way of non-violent political struggle.
The Community of Sant'Egidio also remembers having worked at his side for the peace process in Burundi in 2003. Mandela spoke English in front of a country divided between Hutu and Tutsi and French-speaking, but his words were those of the "Father" and all the Burundians perceived them as addressed to themselves, real because they had been experienced before being pronounced. Sometimes the children, when "dad" left, argued again, because the divisions were deep. But without Mandela even peace in Burundi would have been impossible. We feel an additional responsibility, to pursue the dream of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation that Nelson Mandela has expressed.