“Former South African President Nelson Mandela embraced me like a daughter each time we met, and asked me how my mother was doing” says former Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga.
Despite never meeting Chandrika's mother, Kumaratunga told the BBC Sinhala that Mandela had a great deal of respect for her, the world's first female premier, and that he never forgot the letters of support she sent him during his decades of incarceration in South African prison.
Mandela and Former President Kumaratunga would often sit beside each other at multilateral conferences, as their countries were alphabetically connected.
Chandrika says ‘The Elders’ – a group of leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007 to address major causes of human suffering approached her confidentially three to four years ago, during the end of the war to address reconciliation in Sri Lanka and minority rights.
She says the group again contacted her after the war, inquiring if there was anything they could do to assist with the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka.
According to Chandrika, she replied to the group saying, “ You can do many things in Sri Lanka, but our government won’t listen. Send former President Mandela to Sri Lanka, and maybe, this will convince the government to listen since Mr. Mandela is a skillful statesman.”