6 December 2013

Nelson Mandela: An icon in life and death

Millions around the world express their grief and love for Madiba on his passing

Nelson Mandela Nelson Mandela voting in 1994.

Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together and it is together that we will bid him farewell. – South African President Jacob Zuma

Nelson Mandela has passed away.

South Africa’s first democratically elected president passed away on Thursday evening at his home in Houghton, after a long illness.

'Our nation has lost its greatest son,' South African President Jacob Zuma said.

Zuma added: 'What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.

'Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together and it is together that we will bid him farewell.'

He said Mandela would receive a full state funeral, and flags would be flown at half-mast.

US President Barack Obama hailed Mandela as a leader who left his country with a legacy of freedom and peace with the world.

'He achieved more than could be expected of any man,' Obama said at the White House, shortly after the announcement of Mandela’s death.

'Today he’s gone home, and 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.'

Crowds gathered outside Mandela’s Houghton, Johannesburg, home, singing and celebrating his life and legacy as the world reacted to the news.

Many others took to the social networks, where they shared their sadness at the news.

Claire Bodman wrote on South African Tourism’s Facebook page, 'RIP Nelson Mandela from the UK. God bless.'

Andrea Lennefer from Germany wrote, 'Thinking of all my South African friends – wishing you a calm and peaceful time as a nation together... just as it would have been in your national hero’s mind... RIP Madiba.'

The main South African Tourism Twitter account, @GoToSouthAfrica, was flooded with messages filled with love and condolences for the great man. @claireroadley tweeted, 'RIP #Mandela. A sad day for @GoToSouthAfrica – and the whole world. A true inspiration x #tatamadiba.'

@TrvlSpecialist tweeted, 'Nelson Mandela – In Memoriam, may your story and dream live on @southafrica @southafricaANZ @gotosouthafrica.'

Artist Bono, who knew and worked with Mandela, said, 'In the end Nelson Mandela showed us how to love not hate.'

'He made reconciliation happen in South Africa,' added former South African president FW de Klerk, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela in 1993.

'I will never forget my friend Madiba,' former US president Bill Clinton tweeted.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said: 'A great light has gone out in the world.'

UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon tweeted that he would never forget Mandela’s 'selflessness and deep sense of shared purpose'.

Singer Rihanna, who recently visited and performed in South Africa, tweeted, '#NelsonMandela you made your people proud!! We'll always love you for it!'

Boxer Mike Tyson tweeted, 'I'm hearing about Nelson Mandela's death while on African soil in Oran, Algeria. Sending prayers to Mandela's family.'

Actor Samuel L Jackson tweeted, 'Never met a better person in my life than Nelson Mandela. My sympathy to his family and his country.'

It has been reported that over next three or four days, Mandela's body is expected to be taken to a military hospital and embalmed.

There will be a memorial service at FNB Stadium (Soccer City) where the FIFA World Cup final was played in 2010. Afterwards, Mandela will lie in state for several days at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Next week, probably on Friday or Saturday, Mandela will be taken by military aircraft to his ancestral hometown of Qunu, which he had asked to be his final resting place.