The death of Nelson Mandela, the founder of modern South Africa, is being marked in Kirklees with Books of Condolence in town halls in Dewsbury, Batley and Cleckheaton.
Nelson Mandela has been described in South Africa as ‘the father of the nation.’
Members of the public who wish to pay their respects may visit the town halls and sign the books and the council’s website will also carry a printable blank which can be filled with a personal message and posted to be added to the Books of Condolence before they are sent to the South African Consulate.
The Mayor of Kirklees Council, Coun Martyn Bolt, paid tribute to his achievements saying: “Nelson Mandela is one of the most inspirational world leaders we have seen in our lifetime, and his influence has spread the world over.
“His leadership, calmness, courage and his strength to lead a nation through massive change all make him unique. He has been called South Africa’s greatest son, but his influence was global. He was the human demonstration that courage and belief in what is right can triumph over injustice and oppression
In October 1963 Nelson Mandela joined nine others – including subsequent senate members Walter Sisulu and Govan Mbeki of the African National Congress – on trial for sabotage in what became known as the Rivonia Trial where the death penalty could have been imposed.
At the end of the trial he said: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
He was sentenced to life imprisonment and is said to have rejected at least three conditional offers of release during the 26 years he served, 18 of them on Robben Island. He was released on February 11, 1990 by President FW de Klerk.
Nelson Mandela immersed himself into official talks to end white minority rule and in 1991 was elected ANC President to replace Oliver Tambo. In 1993 he and President FW de Klerk jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize and on April 27, 1994 he voted for the first time in his life.
On May 10, 1994 he was inaugurated South Africa’s first democratically elected President stepping down in 1999 after one term and subsequently working with his charities.
Coun Shabir Pandor, Kirklees Cabinet member for town halls, said: “It is appropriate that local people can visit the town halls to pay tribute to such a great world leader.”