The world was in mourning last week as Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and leader in the abolition of the country’s apartheid, passed away on Thursday evening.
A global symbol of peace and equality, Mr Mandela spent 27 years behind bars for his political activities before finally being released in 1990. His tireless, peaceful efforts to rid the country of the white-minority ruling saw him awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 before taking his seat as President of his home country one year later.
A crusader in the fight against racism, and an icon the world-over, Nelson Mandela will always be considered one of the most influential leaders in history.
Announcing the news on South African national TV, President Jacob Zuma said Mr Mandela was at peace and paid tribute to the great life of his fellow countryman.
“Our nation has lost its greatest son,” Mr Zuma said. “Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss.”
Flags flew at half mast throughout South Africa following his passing whilst a state funeral will occur on Sunday 15th December.
Tributes continue to pour in from around the world for the one they called ‘Madiba’
His fellow campaigner against apartheid, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, spoke of his relationship with Mr Mandela, saying he was “not only an amazing gift to humankind, he made South Africans and Africans feel good about being who we are. He made us walk tall. God be praised.”
FW de Klerk was South Africa’s last white president, and was the man who ordered the release of Mr Mandela in 1990. De Klerk called him a ‘unifier’ and said he had ‘a remarkable lack of bitterness’.
He told the BBC that the former president’s greatest legacy “is that we are basically at peace with each other notwithstanding our great diversity, that we will be taking hands once again now around his death and around our common sadness and mourning.”
Britain’s Royal Family also paid their respect to the former South African leader, with the Prince of Wales saying: “He was a man of great humour and had a real zest for life.
“With his passing, there will be an immense void not only in his family’s lives, but also in those of all South Africans and the many others whose lives have been changed through his fight for peace, justice and freedom.
“The world has lost an inspired leader and a great man. My family and I are profoundly saddened and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”