You've left us behind a nation inspired by hope. Rest peacefully.

Today we mourn the passing of one of the world’s greatest leaders – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. On this saddest of days our thoughts go first and foremost to his wife Mrs Graça Machel, to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to Ms Winnie Madikizela Mandela as well as his closest friends and comrades.

We are deeply grateful to our first President of a democratic South Africa Mr Mandela for what he did for South Africa as a nation, for Africa and for the world. We can take comfort knowing that our own grief is shared by hundreds of millions of people across the world who have been touched by his extraordinary gentleness, statesmanship and humility.

The sadness we feel today is borne out by his great inspiration to all of us. He gave us his love and showed us compassion when we most needed it. Madiba inspired us to be better human beings, to treat one another with respect and to be bound by our common humanity for the common good.

He lived by a set of values that we must continue to cherish because they are as necessary now as they were before the dawn of democracy in South Africa. They were compassion, unshakeable integrity, the ability to think about the future, and to put others ahead of ourselves.

Madiba believed in human rights and humanity and that these would triumph. Our responsibility is to preserve what he stood for, vigilantly guarding against discrimination and disregard for other people. By doing so, we will ensure that his legacy lives on.

Let us stand together as we mourn the loss of a deeply loved leader. The highest tribute we can pay him is to celebrate his life by living the values that he taught us.

I was deeply privileged to know him, to serve in his government and to learn from him. Among the lessons he taught me was that the extraordinary is possible if you stay true to what you believe in and to your values.

My love and respect for him are deep and will live with me forever.

Maria Ramos: Chief Executive Officer, Barclays Africa Group