Former South African president Nelson Mandela has died at 95, according to the country’s president Jacob Zuma.
Nelson Mandela is known as the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa’s first democratically elected president.
In a televised address, Zuma said, “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.”
Zuma said “the nation has lost it’s greatest son”, adding “he is now resting. He is now at peace.”
Mandela will be given a state funeral and the national flags will be lowered to half mast.
As South Africa’s first black president, the ex-boxer, lawyer and prisoner No. 46664 paved the way to racial reconciliation with well-chosen gestures of forgiveness.
He even had lunch with the prosecutor that sent him to jail.
His imprisonment included 18 years on the notorious Robben Island penal colony, where he and the other prisoners were forced to work in a limestone quarry. He began suffering lung infections that plagued him for years.
One of his most memorable actions was when he walked onto the field before the 1995 Rugby World Cup final in Johannesburg. He came on the field in South African colors to congratulate the victorious South African team, bringing the primarily white crowd of 63,000 to its feet, chanting ‘Nelson! Nelson! Nelson!’
Nelson Mandela’s family attended the UK premiere of the biographical film of his life, not knowing of his passing yet.
Mandela’s death was announced as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the former South African president’s daughter, Zindzi Mandela, sat down to watch the screening of “Long Walk To Freedom”.
Prince William said, “I just wanted to say it’s extremely sad and tragic news. We were just reminded what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. It’s very sad.”
Mandela’s daughter, Zindzi, was representing the family at the film premiere and was told her father was fading just minutes before the film began.
Zindzi said of the film, “It’s something that makes me feel really proud, what my family went through and the role my father played has been recognized. It is a reward [for him] ”.
Nelson Mandela’s last public appearance was during the final tournament in Johannesburg’s Soccer City.
“I would like to be remembered not as anyone unique or special, but as part of a great team in this country that has struggled for many years, for decades and even centuries,” he said. “The greatest glory of living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall.”
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