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GEORGETOWN, Guyana — The chair of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Conference of Heads of Government, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago will represent the Community at the official state memorial service to be held on Tuesday in Johannesburg for Nelson Mandela, first democratically elected president of South Africa, former head of the African National Congress and global icon.
The heads of government of The Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica and Suriname will also be in attendance at that memorial. Grenada will be represented by its deputy prime minister. The president of Haiti will travel to South Africa for the state funeral to be held on 15 December.
CARICOM, through messages from its chair, the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago; other heads of government of the Community and through the secretary-general, joined the rest of the world in mourning the death and honouring the life of Mandela and in extending deepest condolences to his widow Graca Machel and the entire Mandela family as well as to the government and people of South Africa.
According to Persad Bissessar, “Mr Mandela displayed qualities which defined the zenith of human behaviour. Forgiveness, humility, integrity and undying love for his fellow human beings, particularly for his country and its people were his hallmark. He led a life that which may make emulation almost impossible. His struggles, redemption and victory took us to the zenith of human possibility and left a legacy of inestimable value to the world.”
The Caribbean Community was privileged to have Mandela grace its 25th anniversary celebrations in Saint Lucia in 1998, where he met with heads of government. His buoyant spirit and ebullient sense of humour endeared him to all, exemplified as he rose from his seat and danced to the music at the concert to mark the occasion.
The simplicity with which he conducted his life shone through in the manner in which he interacted with all who came into contact with him. His example of sacrifice for principle and ideals in defiance of unspeakable atrocities meted out to his people and denial of his own liberty has inspired millions around the world. His stature was defined by his policy of reconciliation without recrimination and bitterness.