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Memorial service for Nelson Mandela held in Tehran-- 11 December 2013

Musical band performing a song dedicated to Nelson Mandela at a memorial service held in Tehran

On the very day when world statesmen and women were gathering in Johannesburg's FNB Stadium to say farewell to Mr. Nelson Mandela, the Tehran Municipality and the Embassy of South Africa organized a tribute to the late Nelson Mandela.

The ceremony was attended by Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, representatives from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, representative from the diplomatic community, NGOs and the media.

In his remarks, Mr. Ali Janati, Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance said: "Nelson Mandela was an international icon for peace and an inspiration for all those suffering from oppression."

Mr. Gary Lewis, United Nations Resident Coordinator was also invited to speak at the event and conveyed condolences on behalf of the United Nations to the people of Republic of South of Africa.

Mr. Gary Lewis,
UN Resident Coordinator and UNIC Director a.i

Mr. Lewis then briefly shared with the audience some of his impressions of Mr. Mandela drawing on his past experience of having lived in South Africa over a decade ago and having been in the presence of the great man.

Here is an extract from his speech:

"And I was privileged to be in the presence of Madiba. And what I noticed was not so much the man, but the impression that he created on everyone in the room. To all of us - I think - we wondered: how can a man who has endured so much be so compassionate and so humble? And as I looked around the room I saw people thinking 'Why can't we be more like this man?' And this is the impression that stuck with me from many years after I left South Africa. So if I had the opportunity to see him again I would say: 'Thank you - Sir - for personifying the ideals of the United Nations - the ideals of peace, the ideals of justice, ideals of human rights - ideals whose time has come.'"

Two short clips on Mandela were screened and a music band performed a song dedicated to Nelson Mandela.

The Ambassador of South Africa in the Islamic Republic of Iran closed the ceremony by thanking the participants and emphasizing on the idea that "We have gathered here to celebrate the great man's life rather than mourn a loss." He added "Nelson Mandela was a great leader and a great inspiration to all of us."

H.E. Ambassador of South Africa in the
Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. Whitehead
Follow Gary Lewis @GaryLewisUN
Follow UNIC Tehran @UNICTehran
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