SLOVAK representatives joined those from across the world sending their condolences to South Africa, where former president and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela died on December 5.

Mandela, who symbolised the resistance of South Africa’s black inhabitants against apartheid, and was a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and a former South African president, died at the age of 95 in his home in Johannesburg. His death was announced by current South African President Jacob Zuma.

“The Gandhi of Africa is gone,” Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič wrote in his condolence letter to Zuma, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “Together with him, one epoch in the modern age of South Africa and the African continent also ends.”

Gašparovič added that people will remember Mandela as a respected personality and a natural leader with extraordinary courage who “did not regret any sacrifice on the way of resistance against undemocratic practices in his country”.

Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák called Mandela’s death a loss for the whole democratic world. He said he honoured him as a respected person who “not only suffered much in his life, but achieved even more”, as reported by SITA.

Prime Minister Robert Fico expressed regret that the world has lost another person of distinction. He described his own experience with Mandela when he as an observer attended the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994, in which Mandela’s ANC won in a landslide victory.

“The atmosphere back then was incredible, and every report on South Africa, including the saddest of all, Nelson Mandela’s demise, brings back memories of 1994,” said Fico, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Lajčák paid respects to Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg at the memorial service on December 10. He said it was an honour to represent Slovakia at the service.

“It wasn’t a classic memorial service like we have in our country,” Lajčák said, as quoted by TASR. “This was an unorthodox event and more a celebration of his life than a mournful gathering, a fact aptly mentioned by US President Barack Obama in his speech.”

Numerous world leaders came to pay their respects on December 10 to the legendary fighter against apartheid, who ushered in a new era of reconciliation and forgiveness in South Africa.