News People Nelson Mandela: Anti-apartheid hero dies, aged 95

Nelson Mandela: Anti-apartheid hero dies, aged 95

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• ALEXANDER BERESFORD: Is there life for democracy after Mandela?
• TRIBUTE: Nelson Mandela ‘a truly great man’: Tony Abbott
• QUOTES: Nelson Mandela in his own words
• Watch: Mandela’s speech following his release from prison
• Nelson Mandela timeline: An extraordinary life

South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero and former president, Nelson Mandela, has died at the age of 95.

“Our nation has lost its greatest son,” South African president Jacob Zuma said. “He is now resting.”

Flags across the nation will be lowered to half mast, he said. 

• Leave your personal tribute to Nelson Mandela here

Mandela had been receiving around the clock intensive care from military and other doctors since September, when he was discharged from a nearly three month hospital stay for a lung infection.

In a televised address, Zuma said: “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.

“What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.”

Zuma, who had to collect himself before speaking to the media, confirmed that Mandela passed away “peacefully in the company of his family around 20:50 on the 5th December. He is now rested. He is now at peace.”

When I thanked [Mandela] for his life work, he insisted credit belonged to others.

He said although the nation knew this day would eventually come, nothing could diminish his people’s sense of profound loss.

“His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world,” he said.

Nelson Mandela and wife Winnie with their grandchild, Bambata.
Nelson Mandela and wife Winnie with their grandson, Bambatha.

“His humility and compassion earned him our love. Our prayers and thoughts are with his family — to them we owe a debt of gratitude. They have sacrificed so much so that our people could be free.”

Zuma said South African people today mourned the loss of the one person “who more than any other came to embody their sense of a common nationhood”.

“What made him great was precisely what made him human. we saw in him what we seek in ourselves and in him we saw so much of ourselves,” he said.

“Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together and it is together that we will bid him farewell. I have ordered that all flags of the republic of South Africa be lowered to half-mast from tomorrow, December 6th, to remain so until after the funeral.”

“Let us conduct ourselves with the dignity and respect Madeba personified,” Zuma said, before ending his speech with: “We will always love you Madiba, may your soul rest in peace. God bless South Africa.”

The world mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela.

‘A moral leader’: Tony Abbott

In a statement, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Mandela would be remembered as more than a political leader.

“He was a moral leader. He spent much of his life standing against the injustice of apartheid,” Mr Abbott said.

“When that fight was won, he inspired us again by his capacity to forgive and reconcile his country.

“While the world may never see another Nelson Mandela, he has inspired countless men and women throughout the world to live more courageous and honest lives.

“On behalf of the Australian Government and the Australian community, I extend my condolences to Mr Mandela’s family and to the people of South Africa.”

Barack Obama during a visit to the cell in which Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
Barack Obama during a visit to the cell in which Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.

Inspired by ‘fierce dignity’: Barack Obama

“He achieved more than could be expected of any man and today he has gone home,” US President Barack Obama said in a tribute to Mandela.

“Through his fierce dignity, Madiba transformed South Africa and moved all of us. He embodied the promise that human beings and countries can change for the better.

“As he once said, ‘I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying’.

“My very first political action was a protest against apartheid, I would study his words and his writings. The day he was released from prison showed me what can happen when human beings are guided by hopes and not their fears.”

Obama said the world would never again see the likes of Nelson Mandela.

“So it falls to us to … never discount the difference one person can make. Now, we can pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived.

“May God bless his memory and keep him in peace.”

‘He touched our lives’: Ban Ki-moon

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Mandela “touched our lives in deeply personal ways”.

“I was privileged to meet him. When I thanked him for his life work, he insisted credit belonged to others,” he said.

“I was so touched. It struck me since then … a sense of human decency and humbleness. Let us continue each day to be inspired by Nelson Mandela’s lifelong example to keep working for a better and more just world.

“We have to learn the wisdom and determination and commitment of President Mandela to make this world better.

“I wanted to express my deepest admiration and respect to President Mandela and all people of Africa.”

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