Giant for justice: Nelson Mandela dies peacefully at home, aged 95

South African President Zuma announced the sad news in a televised address.

“Fellow South Africans, our beloved Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding president of our democratic nation, is gone,” Zuma said.

“He is resting now. He is now at peace. Our people have lost a father.

“Although we knew this day was coming, nothing can lessen our sense of deep and lasting loss.

“His tireless struggle for freedom has earned him the respect of the world. His humility, his passion and his humanity earned him their love.

The beloved leader has become a symbol of hope and reconciliation in South Africa and around the world, first as a talented lawyer and political protester against the white domination of South Africa.

He sided with the first who advocated the fight against apartheid in 1960, but at the same time wanted diplomacy to reign through reconciliation rather than bloodshed.

When he was imprisoned for 27 years on Robben Island for his opposition to the government, his fight for freedom raised the profile of his cause and when he was released in 1990 he returned to a nation ready to abolish the apartheid under his leadership and to work for a forgiving future. .

When he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, he shared the honor with FW de Klerk, the white Afrikaner leader who freed him.

In 1994, he ran in the first historic all-race election and won, becoming the country’s first black president and making reconciliation central to his five years in office before retirement.

In retirement, he focused on the AIDS crisis in South Africa – he lost his only son to an AIDS-related illness in 2005.

Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States, gave an emotional speech shortly after Zuma’s announcement.

He said the world had lost “one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that each of us will share time with on this earth”.

Zuma said Mandela would receive a full state funeral with flags flying at half mast.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key also ordered flags to be lowered for Mandela – a tribute usually reserved for a head of state and only on the day of their funeral.

The Australian and England cricket teams, due to start the second Ashes Test in Adelaide, paused for a minute’s silence before play and wear black armbands.

“Nelson Mandela was a giant of justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Nelson Mandela showed what is possible for our world and in each of us if we believe, dream and work together for justice and humanity.”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott heard the news live on Neil Mitchell’s radio show.

He said Mandela was “one of the great figures of Africa, arguably one of the great figures of the last century” and “the father of a modern South Africa”.

Image via Getty

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