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December 14, 2018

South Africa marks one year since death of Mandela

South Africans on Friday marked one year since the death of Nelson Mandela with services, blasting vuvuzelas and a cricket match to honour his enormous legacy as an anti-apartheid icon and global beacon of hope.

An interfaith service kicked off the day’s events in Pretoria, at the Freedom Park amphitheatre dedicated to the country’s liberation heroes.

“Twenty years of democracy has been possible because of Mandela,” tribal chief Ron Martin said as the sun rose over the Pretoria hills and the smell of herbs burning in spiralled antelope horns wafted over the ceremony.

“Any sense of pride was frowned upon by apartheid,” he said, “but we are reclaiming that today.”

Veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the base of a five-metre statue of a smiling Madiba, the clan name by which South Africans affectionately call their nation’s favourite son.

“The body gave in but Madiba’s spirit never, never changed, it was always the same until the end,” Mandela’s widow Graca Machel said before laying a huge wreath of white flowers with pale pink roses at the base of the statue.

She then joined hands with members of Mandela’s family for a prayer.

“Madiba is, in spirit, the same even today,” said Machel. “I know Madiba is smiling, Madiba is happy because he is amongst the family he chose to build.”

She was “numb” when her husband died, but said she now remembers him as “tall and proud.”

During the service, bells tolled for three minutes and seven seconds — followed by three minutes of silence: a six-minute and seven-second dedication to Mandela’s 67 years of public service.

His old comrade, Ahmed Kathrada, imprisoned with him on Robben Island, also paid tribute to his “elder brother”.

“I miss him not only as a political leader, I miss him as an elder brother,” said Kathrada, his voice shaking.

“When Madiba died, I asked who should I turn to, I am still looking to somebody.”

A long list of other events dedicated to Mandela were set to take place into the weekend and beyond, including motorcycle rides and performances.

South Africans were also finding their own ways of remembering the former president who led the country out of the dark days of apartheid after 27 years in prison.

Tattoo studios for example have reported an ever-growing demand for Mandela-inspired ink.

Fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu called on South Africans to emulate Mandela’s example in a statement to mark the anniversary.

“Our obligation to Madiba is to continue to build the society he envisaged, to follow his example,” Tutu said.

“A society founded on human rights, in which all can share in the rich bounty God bestowed on our country. In which all can live in dignity, together. A society of better tomorrows for all.”

– Motorbikes for Mandela –

The iconic leader passed away at the age of 95 last year after a long illness.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa led the three-minute silence in the morning, followed by a friendly cricket match, dubbed the Mandela Legacy Cup, between South Africa’s national rugby and cricket teams at 1300 GMT.

At the weekend, artists and performers will hold centre stage at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which has launched an exhibition in honour of the life and work of its namesake.

Motorcyclists across the country have also been called on to dedicate their traditional Sunday morning rides to the anti-apartheid hero.

A five-kilometre (three-mile) Nelson Mandela Remembrance Walk will be held in Pretoria on December 13, passing some of the city’s historic landmarks, including the Union Buildings, South Africa’s seat of government.

The next day, the city’s inaugural marathon will dedicate its last mile to Madiba.

Mandela’s death was met with a worldwide outpouring of grief.

He set South Africa on a course towards reconciliation after he emerged unbowed from nearly three decades in prison in 1990 and became the country’s first president to be elected by universal suffrage in 1994.

His one-time jailer FW de Klerk, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela in 1993, called on South Africans to honour his legacy.

“Although Nelson Mandela is no longer physically with us his legacy remains to guide us,” he said in a statement.

From: 

South Africa marks one year since death of Mandela

EU mission to help Italy with migrant crisis to start in November

By Julia Fioretti

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union plans to launch a mission to help Italy cope with swarms of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa, the EU said on Tuesday.

Called Operation Triton, the mission will be managed by Europe’s border control agency, Frontex. It will reinforce Italy’s own rescue operation, Mare Nostrum, which began after 366 people drowned just a mile from the Italian island of Lampedusa when their boat capsized a year ago.

Italy has repeatedly called for more help from the EU to cope with the record number of sea-borne arrivals from conflict-torn Libya and Syria over the past year. Mare Nostrum, or “Our Sea,” has been costing Italy 9 million euros a month, straining the resources of its navy and coastguard.

“With the launch of the Triton operation, tailored to the needs and requests defined by the Italian authorities, the EU can show concrete solidarity to Italy, by reinforcing its border surveillance and supporting its humanitarian efforts,” said EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom in a statement on Tuesday.

Frontex has called on member states for contributions to the new mission, which is expected to cost 2.9 million euros ($3.66 million) a month, so that it can begin on Nov. 1.

In addition to two Italian patrol vessels, Frontex is hoping for two surveillance aircrafts and three more vessels to patrol the waters up to 30 miles from Italy’s southern coast.

EU officials said Germany, France and Spain had already indicated they would help, although they could provide no details on what the three countries might contribute.

More than 100,000 migrants have arrived by sea so far this year in Italy, and in September the International Organization for Migration reported than almost 3,000 people had drowned in shipwrecks in the Mediterranean in 2014.

Questions remain over the future of Mare Nostrum, which was originally envisaged as an emergency response to the flows of migrants from North Africa. Last Friday, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Mare Nostrum would not be stopped until the EU came up with something just as good or better.

Given that Triton’s budget is just a third of Mare Nostrum’s, it is unclear how Frontex would manage to patrol the seas if Mare Nostrum were to be abandoned.

(Reporting by Julia Fioretti; Editing by Larry King)

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EU mission to help Italy with migrant crisis to start in November