Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid icon who became the first president of a democratic South Africa, passed away Thursday at his home in Johannesburg after a prolonged lung infection. He was 95.
South African President Jacob Zuma announced that Mandela, “the founding president of our democratic nation, has departed,” adding that he “passed on peacefully.”
Mandela will be accorded a state funeral, Zuma said, and national flags will be lowered to half-mast.
“We saw in him what we seek in ourselves. And in him we saw so much of ourselves,” he said. “Nelson Mandela brought us together and it is together that we will bid him farewell.”
Mandela’s respiratory problems in recent years may have been connected to his imprisonment, when he contracted tuberculosis after working in a prison quarry. He had been in hospital in recent months.
Mandela was a prominent international figure for more than half a century, first as a leading human rights campaigner in South Africa and then as the world’s best-known political prisoner.
“Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father,” Zuma said. “Our thoughts are with the millions of people who embraced Mandela as their own and who saw his cause as their cause.… This is the moment of our deepest sorrow.”
His U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, echoed the same sentiment.
“We’ve lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth,” Obama said. “He no longer belongs to us — he belongs to the ages.”
((Sourced from CBC and CNN))