Malawi President Joyce Banda Monday led Malawians in signing a condolence book for the fallen South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela at the South African embassy in the capital, Lilongwe, where she made a personal reflection on Mandela’s impact on her life.
‘I would like to say that Africa has lost a great man,’ she told journalists after signing in the condolence book.
Banda, Africa’s second elected female President, recalled the time she visited Mandela’s prison on Robben Island.
‘After my experience at Robben Island, I wanted to sit down with him and get to understand him better,’ she said. ‘What I learnt from his life is the ability to forgive even those who put him through so much pain.’
She said that, for her, ‘is the most important lesson that I have learnt and some of the things we discussed have influenced the decisions that I have to make in my life as President of Malawi’.
Later Monday, President Banda was scheduled to fly to South Africa to attend the memorial service of the man fondly known by his clan name of Madiba, at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
On Thursday Banda will view the body of Mandela alongside other leaders and dignitaries at the Union Building in Pretoria
The Mandela Foundation supports Banda’s Presidential Initiative on Poverty and Hunger Reduction, and President Banda was recently appointed one of the patrons of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust, according to State House Press Secretary Steven Nhlane.