Nelson Mandela dies at 95
Former South African President Nelson Mandela passed away at the age of 95 on Thursday night at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg surrounded by his family, said the country's President Jacob Zuma.
"Our beloved Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding President of our democratic nation has departed," said Zuma in his address to the nation.
"He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 20h50 on the 5th of December 2013. He is now resting. He is now at peace," saids Zuma.
"Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss," he said.
Zuma said Mandela's tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world.
"His humility, his compassion, and his humanity earned him their love. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family. To them we owe a debt of gratitude. They have sacrificed much and endured much so that our people could be free," he said.
"Our thoughts are with his wife Mrs Graca Machel, his former wife Ms Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, with his children, his grand-children, his great grand-children and the entire family," said Zuma.
"Our thoughts are with his friends, comrades and colleagues who fought alongside Madiba over the course of a lifetime of struggle. Our thoughts are with the South African people who today mourn the loss of the one person who, more than any other, came to embody their sense of a common nationhood."
"Our thoughts are with the millions of people across the world who embraced Madiba as their own, and who saw his cause as their cause. This is the moment of our deepest sorrow.
"Yet, what made Nelson Mandela 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," said Zuma.
He said Mandela will be accorded a State Funeral.
"Nelson Mandela brought us together, and it is together that we will bid him farewell. Our beloved Madiba will be accorded a State Funeral," said Zuma.
"I have ordered that all flags of the Republic of South Africa be lowered to half-mast from tomorrow, 6 December, and to remain at half-mast until after the funeral," he said.
"As we gather to pay our last respects, let us conduct ourselves with the dignity and respect that Madiba personified. Let us be mindful of his wishes and the wishes of his family. As we gather, wherever we are in the country and wherever we are in the world, let us recall the values for which Madiba fought," said Zuma.
"Let us reaffirm his vision of a society in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another. Let us commit ourselves to strive together - sparing neither strength nor courage - to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
"Let us express, each in our own way, the deep gratitude we feel for a life spent in service of the people of this country and in the cause of humanity. This is indeed the moment of our deepest sorrow. Yet it must also be the moment of our greatest determination," said Zuma.
"A determination to live as Madiba has lived, to strive as Madiba has strived and to not rest until we have realised his vision of a truly united South Africa, a peaceful and prosperous Africa, and a better world. We will always love you Madiba! May your soul rest in peace," the South African President said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry condoled Mandela's death and said his 'long walk to freedom' gave new meaning to courage, character, forgiveness, and human dignity.
In a statement, Kerry said: "Madiba's 'long walk to freedom' gave new meaning to courage, character, forgiveness, and human dignity. Now that his long walk has ended, the example he set for all humanity lives on. He will be remembered as a pioneer for peace."
"There are some truly brave people in this world whom you meet and you're forever changed for the experience. Nelson Mandela remains Teresa's hero, and a person who inspired her as a young woman to march with her classmates against apartheid. We had the honor of sitting with Mandela over the Thanksgiving holidays of 2007.
"I was struck by how warm, open, and serene he was. I stood in his tiny cell on Robben Island, a room with barely enough space to lie down or stand up, and I learned that the glare of the white rock quarry permanently damaged his eyesight," he said.
"It hit home even more just how remarkable it was that after spending 27 years locked away, after having his own vision impaired by the conditions, that this man could still see the best interests of his country and even embrace the very guards who kept him prisoner.
"That is the story of a man whose ability to see resided not in his eyes but in his conscience. It is hard to imagine any of us could summon such strength of character."
Kerry said Mandela was a stranger to hate.
"He rejected recrimination in favor of reconciliation and knew the future demands we move beyond the past. He gave everything he had to heal his country and lead it back into the community of nations, including insisting on relinquishing his office and ensuring there would be a peaceful transfer of power.
"Today, people all around the world who yearn for democracy look to Mandela's nation and its democratic Constitution as a hopeful example of what is possible," he said.
"Teresa and I join those from around the world in honoring the life of this great man. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife, Graca, his family, all the people of South Africa and everyone who today enjoys the freedom Madiba fought for his entire life," said Kerry.
Mandela was President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 and an anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician.
He was the first black South African to hold the office, and the first elected in a fully representative, multiracial election.
His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation.
Politically an African nationalist anddemocratic socialist, he served as the President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997.
Internationally, Mandela was the Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999.
Although initially committed to non-violent protest, he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961 in association with the South African Communist Party, leading a sabotage campaign against the apartheidgovernment.
In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment in theRivonia Trial.
Mandela served 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison.
An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife.
Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life.
Right-wing critics denounced him as a terrorist and communist sympathiser.
He nevertheless gained international acclaim for his anti-colonial and anti-apartheid stance, having received more than 250 honours, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Soviet Order of Lenin and the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award.
(Posted on 06-12-2013)