The Ford Foundation joins people worldwide in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela, while celebrating his impact on the people of South Africa and people everywhere who yearn for freedom.

“Mandela was not only an extraordinary human being of profound accomplishment, he was profoundly human,” said Ford Foundation president Darren Walker. “Warm, gentle, filled with both courage and kindness, he lived life in a way that all of us, at our best, aspire to live ours. His pleasure in simple acts of joy and laughter, which touched so many lives, especially children, will be remembered as much as his great acts of leadership and statesmanship.”

“While no one phrase fully captures what Mandela stood for to South Africans and to the world, human dignity comes closest,” said Franklin Thomas, president of the foundation from the late 1970s (pictured at left with Mandela in 1991), when the foundation began funding the fight against apartheid, through 1996, two years following the election of Mandela as president of South Africa. “In everything he did, human dignity—his own and that of others—came through with conviction. That phrase is now embedded in the South Africa constitution.”

The Ford Foundation funded the fight against apartheid starting in the late 1970s, the transition to democracy in the early 1990s, and the writing of the South Africa constitution, which is seen the world over as a contemporary model of visionary and inclusive government. The foundation continues to fund the growth and development of South Africa’s society from its office in Johannesburg. In July, longtime Mandela friend and former CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Achmat Dangor, assumed the role of Ford Foundation representative in the country.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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