Today 06 December
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied.
Nelson Mandela guided South Africa from the shackles of apartheid to multi-racial democracy, as an icon of peace and reconciliation who came to embody the struggle for justice around the world. Imprisoned for nearly three decades for his fight against white minority rule, Mandela emerged determined to use his prestige and charisma to bring down apartheid while avoiding a civil war. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come," Mandela said in his acceptance speech on becoming South Africa's first black president in 1994. "We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation." In 1993, Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, an honor he shared with F.W. de Klerk, the white Afrikaner leader who freed him from prison three years earlier and negotiated the end of apartheid.
Pope Francis on Friday paid tribute to anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela for "forging a new South Africa" and said he hoped his example would inspire the nation to strive for "justice and the common good". Francis praised the "steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation's citizens and in forging a new South Africa," in a message to President Jacob Zuma. "It was with sadness that I learned of the death... and I send prayerful condolences to all the Mandela family, to the members of the government and to all the people of South Africa," the pope said.
South African President Jacob Zuma: "Our people have lost a father. His humility, passion and humanity earned him their love." U.S. President Barack Obama: "He achieved more than could be expected of any man. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time." Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus and anti-apartheid activist: "Like a most precious diamond honed deep beneath the surface of the earth, the Madiba who emerged from prison in January 1990 was virtually flawless ... Instead of calling for his pound of flesh, he proclaimed the message of forgiveness and reconciliation, inspiring others by his example to extraordinary acts of nobility of spirit." Former South African President F.W. de Klerk, on CNN: "He was a great unifier and a very, very special man in this regard beyond everything else he did. This emphasis on reconciliation was his biggest legacy." U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: "Nelson Mandela was a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration.
The world on Friday grappled with the loss of South Africa's beloved Nelson Mandela, a towering figure of the 20th century who inspired millions across the globe with his struggle for equality. Mandela's Rainbow Nation awoke to a future without its 95-year-old founding father after the country's first black president died late on Thursday at his Johannesburg home, surrounded by friends and family. As his compatriots paid lively tributes to the revered anti-apartheid hero with flowers, songs and dance, countries around the world united in an outpouring of emotion, pondering his legacy and remembering key moments in the Nobel Peace laureate's astonishing life. He shared the Nobel Peace Prize with South Africa's last white president F.W. de Klerk in 1993.