JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African anti-
apartheid hero Nelson Mandela died aged 95 at
his Johannesburg home on Thursday after a
prolonged lung infection, plunging his nation
and the world into mourning for a man hailed by
global leaders as a moral giant.
Although Mandela had been frail and ailing for
nearly a year, Zuma’s announcement late on
Thursday of the death of the former president
and Nobel Peace Prize laureate shook South
Tributes began flooding in almost immediately
for a man who was an iconic global symbol of
struggle against injustice and of racial
U.S. President Barack Obama said the world had
lost “one of the most influential, courageous and
profoundly good human beings that any of us
will share time with on this earth”.
British Prime Minister David Cameron called
Mandela “a hero of our time” and said “a great
light has gone out in the world”.
Ordinary South Africans were in shock. “It feels
like it’s my father who has died. He was such a
good man, who had good values the nation
could look up to. He was a role model unlike our
leaders of today,” said Annah Khokhozela, 37, a
nanny, speaking in Johannesburg
A somber Zuma made a national broadcast to
announce the death of South Africa’s first black
president, who emerged from 27 years in
apartheid prisons to help guide Africa’s biggest
economy through bloodshed and turmoil to
“Fellow South Africans, our beloved Nelson
Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding president of
our democratic nation, has departed,” Zuma
said in the nationally televised address.
“Our people have lost a father. Although we
knew this day was going to come, nothing can
diminish our sense of a profound and enduring
loss. His tireless struggle for freedom earned
him the respect of the world. His humility,
passion and humanity, earned him their love,”
“GIANT FOR JUSTICE”
Mandela would receive a full state funeral,
Zuma said, ordering flags to be flown at half
The U.N. Security Council was in session when
the ambassadors received the news of
Mandela’s death. They stopped their meeting
and stood for a minute’s silence.
“Nelson Mandela was a giant for justice and a
down-to-earth human inspiration,” U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters.
“Nelson Mandela showed what is possible for
our world and within each one of us if we
believe, dream and work together for justice
Obama, the first black American president,
described Mandela as an inspiration: “Like so
many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine
my own life without the example that Nelson
Mandela set, and so long as I live I will do what
I can to learn from him,” he said in a televised
address at the White House shortly after the
announcement of Mandela’s death.
“A free South Africa at peace with itself – that’s
an example to the world, and that’s Madiba’s
legacy to the nation he loved.
Mandela rose from rural obscurity to challenge
the might of white minority apartheid
government – a struggle that gave the 20th
century one of its most respected and loved
He was among the first to advocate armed
resistance to apartheid in 1960, but was quick to
preach reconciliation and forgiveness when the
country’s white minority began easing its grip on
power 30 years later.
He was elected president in landmark all-race
elections in 1994 and retired in 1999.
WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS POLITICAL PRISONER
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress
(ANC) party said the country and the world had
lost “a colossus”.
“His life gives us the courage to push forward
for development and progress towards ending
hunger and poverty,” it said in a statement.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993,
an honor he shared with F.W. de Klerk, the
white Afrikaner leader who released from jail
arguably the world’s most famous political
As president, Mandela faced the monumental
task of forging a new nation from the deep
racial injustices left over from the apartheid era,
making reconciliation the theme of his time in
The hallmark of Mandela’s mission was the
Truth and Reconciliation Commission which
probed apartheid crimes on both sides of the
struggle and tried to heal the country’s wounds.
It also provided a model for other countries torn
by civil strife.
In 1999, Mandela handed over power to
younger leaders better equipped to manage a
modern economy – a rare voluntary departure
from power cited as an example to African
In retirement, he shifted his energies to battling
South Africa’s AIDS crisis, a struggle that became
personal when he lost his only surviving son to
the disease in 2005.
Mandela’s last major appearance on the global
stage came in 2010 when he attended the
championship match of the soccer World Cup,
where he received a thunderous ovation from
the 90,000 at the stadium in Soweto, the
neighborhood in which he cut his teeth as a
Charged with capital offences in the infamous
1963 Rivonia Trial, his statement from the dock
was his political testimony.w
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to
this struggle of the African people. I have fought
against white domination, and I have fought
against black domination.”
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