08 April 2013
I am devastated by the news of Lady Margaret
Thatcher's passing this morning. She is an iconic figure in
world history, being the first female Prime Minister of the
United Kingdom, the woman who reversed her nation's decline
following World War II, saw victory in the Falklands War, won
three elections and served her country from 1979 to 1990.
But in my mind she remains, first and
foremost, a friend. Lady Thatcher will forever command my
respect and admiration, not only for her leadership in the UK,
but for her leadership on global matters.
She was a voice of reason during Apartheid and
listened attentively to my plea against sanctions and economic
disinvestment, which we both recognised would hurt the poorest
of our people the most.
I was privileged to visit Lady Thatcher at 10
Downing Street in 1986, and was honoured when she specifically
travelled to Ulundi to visit me as the Chief Minister of the
erstwhile KwaZulu Government. Never before had an international
dignitary shown such respect for a black leadership. She
displayed all the best features of a trailblazer; the courage of
her convictions and a tenacious belief in doing what was
necessary and right.
Her illness in her later years has been
difficult to accept, and her death will be more difficult still.
However, in such a sombre moment, I am reminded of the great
strength and stoicism of my friend. Indeed, I can almost hear
her say, as she was apt to say, this is not the time to "go
wobbly". This is the time for courage in the face of grief.
May Baroness Thatcher's legacy be honoured as
she is laid to rest, quite appropriately, with the first State
funeral for a British Prime Minister since Sir Winston
Churchill. May her friends and family be comforted, as an entire
nation grieves. And may my dear friend now finally rest in