, PARIS, June 12 – Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said Wednesday he was “one of the greatest admirers” of fellow Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela and pledged to perpetuate his ideals.
Speaking to France Info radio while in New Zealand, the Dalai Lama said South Africa’s anti-apartheid icons like Mandela and Desmond Tutu were ageing and frail and “logically they are going to go.”
South Africa’s first black president and the world’s favourite elder statesman has been in hospital since Saturday in a serious but stable condition as he battles a recurrent lung infection. Mandela is due to turn 95 next month.
“The important thing is to preserve his memory,” the Dalai Lama said. “Nelson Mandela is very ill, Desmond Tutu also quite old … (The) important thing is their teaching, their spirit must carry.”
“I feel it is my responsibility” to ensure that and to see they inspire even after they have gone, the Tibetan leader added.
Under apartheid, Tutu campaigned against white minority rule and was awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize.
The Dalai Lama, 77, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. Mandela was awarded the honour in 1993 jointly with F.W. De Klerk, South Africa’s last apartheid-era president.