IT was a surreal memorial service yesterday at Suva's Centenary Methodist Church to celebrate the life of a great, if not, the greatest icon of the modern era, Nelson Mandela.
About one hundred people were not deterred by the soaring December heat.
Members of the Fiji Government including President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum were present alongside members of the diplomatic corps and South Africans living in Fiji.
UNFPA director Dr Laurent Zessler said Mr Mandela gave us so much.
"The Truth and Reconciliation Commission established under his leadership remains a global model for achieving justice in societies confronting the system of apartheid.
"When called upon to mediate conflicts across Africa and the Middle East, he applied his deeply-held beliefs that reconciliation, negotiation and inclusion of all sides of a conflict is the only way forward.
"When he took on the fight against HIV/AIDS, he insisted it was a human rights issue and not just a health issue; he made it a priority on his political agenda and in his humanity and honesty, added to it a human face by making public that one of his children had died from AIDS-related complications," he said.
The United Nations General Assembly declared June 18, his birthday, the Nelson Mandela International Day to recognise and build on his contributions to promoting a culture of peace and freedom around the world.
Other keys speakers including the President highlighted how Mr Mandela's life affected everyone.