The Elders
Nelson Mandela with the Elders, May 2010

Dear friends,

I last met with Nelson Mandela, together with my fellow Elders, three years ago in Johannesburg. This week we returned to South Africa to say farewell to our founder, dear friend and guiding voice.

Many of you have offered moving tributes to Madiba’s courage and humanity, describing how he has influenced and inspired you. I hope you will continue to share your thoughts and messages with us.

For me, his most important lesson was that he never sought power for the sake of power. Time and again, he invested his authority in strong, democratic institutions that would actually outlast any individual leader. Even founding The Elders was an expression of his belief in an idea that was larger than himself.

I believe that we can honour him best not by searching for ‘the new Mandela’, but by realising our own potential – as men, as women, as citizens – to build the just, equal societies that he fought for.

Best wishes,

Kofi Annan

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