PRESIDENT Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has called on Fijians to follow lessons from the life of Nelson Mandela as government, members of the diplomatic corps and the Methodist Church paid tribute to the global icon at the Centenary Methodist Church in Suva yesterday.
Comparing South Africa's struggle to Fiji's, Ratu Epeli said as Fijians embarked on a new path under the new Constitution they must embrace togetherness in order to build a nation that was just, equal and united.
"Fundamental and true equality must be the foundation of the new Fiji," he said.
"Together, we must say, discrimination and inequality, of any kind, no longer have a place here, just as they no longer have a place in South Africa.
"As Fiji moves forward into a new era of substantive equality and justice for all, let us all commit ourselves to following the path lit by Madiba.
"To embrace each other and embrace a new future. To move forward together as one people, one nation.
"To embrace true democracy, true equality, compassion, love, unity, and respect for all Fijians, no matter what their ethnicity, religion, gender or background."
Ratu Epeli recalled two occasions when he met the great man and how infectious his personality was.
He said there was something profound about Nelson Mandela that resonated with Fijians, which was his amazing capacity for forgiveness.