Although President Obama will not get a chance to see Nelson Mandela on his trip to South Africa, he is using his historic visit to pay tribute to the man he calls a hero to the world and will meet today with the Mandela family.
“Our thoughts and those of Americans and people all around the world are with Nelson Mandela and his family and all of South Africans,” Obama said. “The struggle here for freedom, Madiba’s moral courage, this country’s historic transition to a free nation has been a personal inspiration to me, an inspiration to the world, and it continues to be.”
“And what Nelson Mandela also stood for is that the well-being of the country is more important than the interests of any one person,” Obama continued. “George Washington is admired because after two terms he said enough, I’m going back to being a citizen. There were no term limits, but he said I’m a citizen. I served my time. And it’s time for the next person, because that’s what democracy is about. And Mandela similarly was able to recognize that, despite how revered he was, that part of this transition process was greater than one person.”