Tuesday 6 May 2003

ANC's Walter Sisulu dies

One of the truly Good people of this planet. I never knew him -only his legend- but he will be greatly missed by all of us who cherish freedom. He was, and will continue to be, one of my heroes and the source of a lot of inspiration in dark times.

Walter Sisulu, a veteran of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement, died last night. He was 90.

Mr Sisulu, who like his long-time friend Nelson Mandela spent more than 25 years in jail, died after suffering from a long illness.

"His absence has carved a void. A part of me is gone," Mr Mandela said in a statement.

A diminutive man from humble origins, Mr Sisulu was instrumental in encouraging active struggle against apartheid. "Together we shared ideas, forged common commitments," Mr Mandela said. "We walked side by side through the valley of death, nursing each other's bruises, holding each other up when our steps faltered. Together we savoured the taste of freedom.

"In a sense I feel cheated by Walter. If there be another life beyond this physical world I would have loved to be there first so that I could welcome him. Life has determined otherwise.

"I shall miss his friendship and counsel," added Mr Mandela. "Till we meet again."

Like Mr Mandela, he was sentenced to life in prison in 1964 for plotting sabotage and revolution and detained on Robben Island until the apartheid regime finally relented and released him in 1989.

He was elected deputy president of the African National Congress's in 1991, a position he held until after South Africa's first democratic election in 1994.

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