Dec 07, 2013.
It is with great sadness and a profound sense of loss that we learn of the passing of Mr Nelson Mandela at his home in Houghton on 5 December.
We join the many millions of people across the world in expressing our condolences to his family, to South African nation and the international community. South Africa was blessed to have a leader of his calibre and stature in their midst and his passing will leave a huge void in our hearts and minds.
Mr Mandela was always a pragmatic and thought-provoking leader who spoke boldly of the challenges of HIV and AIDS. He never shied away from tackling the important issues we face as an international community in firstly acknowledging the challenges and, secondly, in providing insight into how these can be dealt with.
At the opening ceremony of ICASA at Abuja (Nigeria), Mr Mandela provided much needed inspiration to those gathered there when he said:
“I’m proud ICASA is focusing its attention on leadership, but leadership has to move beyond mere speeches at conference rooms to action. We can keep families together if we can ensure those who need treatment have access to treatment. We can empower those who know whether they are positive or negative to make informed choices about how they live their lives and to choose the means that best suit them to prevent the further spread of HIV and AIDS”
Mr Mandela was passionate about the fight against HIV and AIDS and provided an enormous amount of moral and financial support to individuals and groups who fought this pandemic.
As we prepare for the 17th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) we are reminded of the immeasurable contribution Mr Mandela made to the cause. Without his input and guidance many of the successes we have achieved would not have materialized. His legacy will live forever because of his commitment in the many years before his passing.
In this regard we believe it is fitting that we honour Mr Mandela’s legacy by ensuring our conference makes every effort to ensure meaningful dialogue is matched by tangible outcomes. We need to ensure the battles we have fought and the inspiration we have received from Mr Mandela are not wasted. We need to guard against complacency at a time when action is most needed.
We mourn as individuals, as a nation and as an international community at the loss of this great legend. We understand that his passing leaves a gap that will be difficult to fill. However we must continue. We must fight on and we must honour his ideals. If we do not, we will denigrate his memory and everything he stood for.
Issued on behalf of the 17th ICASA Conference, Cape Town International Convention Centre.
17ème ICASA, Centre International de Conférence de Cape Town