Nelson Mandela dies aged 95

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela in 2008
Image: South Africa The Good News.

The former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, died today at 95. He had been receiving intensive care at home following a lung infection.

Earlier in the day, a large group of friends and family arrived at Mandela's home, which fuelled speculation that Mandela's health had taken a turn for the worse.

Jacob Zuma, the current president of the country, said in a televised address following Mandela's death: "Our nation has lost its greatest son."

Mandela spent 27 years doing hard labour in prison, much of it on Robben Island, during the era of apartheid before becoming the first black president of South Africa in 1994. He spent five years as president but has become recognised the world over as a visionary and moral leader. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

US President Barack Obama said of Mandela: "To so many of us, he was more than just a man — he was a symbol of the struggle for justice, equality, and dignity in South Africa and around the globe. His sacrifice was so great that it called upon people everywhere to do what they could on behalf of human progress."

David Cameron, the British prime minister, paid tribute to Mandela: "A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time."

UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon said Mandela "was a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration", while the President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff said Mandela would "guide all those who fight for social justice and for peace in the world".

Former US President Bill Clinton said: "Today the world has lost one of its most important leaders and one of its finest human beings. History will remember Nelson Mandela as a champion for human dignity and freedom, for peace and reconciliation."

Former British prime minister Tony Blair also paid tribute to Mandela: "Through his leadership, he guided the world into a new era of politics in which black and white, developing and developed, north and south, despite all the huge differences in wealth and opportunity, stood for the first time together on equal terms. Through his dignity, grace and the quality of his forgiveness, he made racism everywhere not just immoral but stupid; something not only to be disagreed with, but to be despised. In its place he put the inalienable right of all humankind to be free and to be equal."