Mandela memorial today
By Newsday Staff Tuesday, December 10 2013
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My condolences: A cameraman records the moment as Acting Prime Minister Marlene Coudray signs the condolence book on the passing of Nelson Mandela whi...
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and several Caricom heads yesterday left for South Africa on a chartered Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) flight to attend today’s memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela.
The memorial service will be held at the First National Bank (FNB) stadium in Nasrec, Johannesburg, at 11 am South African time (5 pm local time).
Members of the delegation included the President of Haiti, Michel Martelly and his wife Sophia, Prime Minister of the Bahamas Perry Christie along with the Deputy Prime Ministers of Grenada and St Lucia, Elvin Nimrod and Phillip Pierre respectively. Also on the trip was Antigua and Barbuda ambassador Colin Murdoch and Barbados’ Foreign Affairs Minister Maxine McClean.
The local delegation included PNM senator Faris Al Rawi, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Margaret Parillon and Chairman of the Emancipation Support Committee, Khafra Kambon.
At a brief press conference at the VIP Lounge at the Piarco International Airport, Persad- Bissessar said the group was expected to land in South Africa at 6 am today (12 pm local time) after spending an estimated 24 hours travelling with a brief refuelling stop in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The press conference was expected to begin at 10 am but members of the media were told it was delayed until 10.45. At 11 am, chief executive officer of the Government Information Services Andy Johnson said the Prime Minister was waiting for Martelly who was expected to arrive on a flight at about 11.30 am. The press conference began at about 12 pm. Rowley was noticeably absent from the press conference but reporters were told he along with Al Rawi and others had already boarded the plane.
The PM said other Caricom leaders including Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller and Guyana’s Prime Minister Sam Hinds were already en route to South Africa yesterday. Local Government Minister Marlene Coudray will act as Prime Minister. This country’s national flag will fly at half mast today and tomorrow in honour of Mandela who died last Thursday. The Ministry of Communication advised all schools to offer a prayer tomorrow at their morning assembly and all Government offices to commence their day tomorrow morning with an appropriate gesture of recognition in honour of the work and life of Mandela. The Caricom delegation is expected to return to Trinidad either tomorrow night or Thursday morning.
Coudray, in her first duty as Acting Prime Minister, yesterday offered sympathies to South Africa High Commissioner, Maureen Modiselle, on Mandela’s passing, in a similar spirit to which Modiselle had previously comforted Coudray on the death of her daughter in Jamaica.
The duo each spoke with reporters when Coudray visited the South Africa High Commission at Scott Street, St Clair, to sign the Mandela condolence book, in which Coudray saluted Mandela’s “humility, great courage and lessons in forgiveness”.
It was Modiselle who told reporters of the close bond shared between the two women in the different days when Coudray lost her daughter, Michele Coudray-Greaves, to murder in Jamaica in June 2012. Modiselle will visit South Africa for its memorial service and then participate in one in TT when she returns. She was pleased many churches in TT have held services for Mandela.
Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal could not say what was the cost of the chartered flight taking Government and Opposition to Mandela’s memorial service, but said, “But what I can tell you is that our responsibility to this global icon, and the magnitude of this world-event, you can’t put a cost in terms of dollars and cents.”
Also yesterday, attendees of a local government symposium paid tribute to Mandela by observing one minute’s silence. The event was the Caribbean Leadership Symposium on Local Economic Development, held at the Capital Plaza, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain.
Secretary General of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum Dr Carl Wright — who played a role in bringing a delegation of ANC party members to the Caribbean in 1994 — paid tribute to Mandela, whose actions led to a non-violent end to apartheid.
“The post-apartheid system would not be marked with such reconciliation had it not been for Mandela,” he said. He called for one minute’s silence.