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South Africans Mourn Mandela

  • VOA News

South Africans are mourning the death of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, the country's first black president, who died Thursday at the age of 95.

Many woke to the news Friday, hours after President Jacob Zuma announced Mandela had "passed on peacefully" in the company of his family.


Dressed in black, Zuma made the statement in a nationally televised address that South Africa "has lost its greatest son and our people have lost a father."

"That is indeed the moment of our deepest sorrow. Yet it must also be the moment of our greatest determination. A determination to live as Madiba has lived, to strive as Madiba has strived and to not rest until we have realized his vision of a truly united South Africa, a peaceful and prosperous Africa, and a better world," said Zuma, referring to Mandela by his nickname.



He said flags will be flown at half staff and Mandela will be given a state funeral, which is expected to follow a period of national mourning.

Scores of world leaders and celebrities are expected to travel to South Africa for the funeral. Mandela was respected around the world for his activism.

Crowds have already gathered outside Mandela's home in Johannesburg, where people sang, danced, and paid their respects in the South African tradition.

Mandela spent nearly three decades in prison for his role in fighting to end white minority rule and official discrimination against blacks in South Africa.

After his release, he emerged as a revered symbol of peace and reconciliation and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. The following year, he became South Africa's first black president.

Mandela, who contracted tuberculosis during his nearly three decades of incarceration, was hospitalized repeatedly during the past several years, most recently for a recurring lung infection.

The African National Congress, which Mandela joined in 1943 and whose youth league he co-founded, said in a statement that South Africa had lost "a colossus and epitome of humility, equality, justice and peace."

Mandela served as the ANC's president from 1991 to 1997. He was South Africa's president from 1994 until he retired from public life in 1999.

Interactive Timeline: The Life of Nelson Mandela

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