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Nelson Mandela dies aged 95
10:18pm Thursday 5th December 2013 in News
South Africa's first black president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela has died.
Mr Mandela, 95, led South Africa's transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s, after 27 years in prison.
He had been receiving intense home-based medical care for a lung infection after three months in hospital.
In a statement on South African national TV, president Jacob Zuma said Mr Mandela had "departed" and was at peace.
Mr 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." David Cameron tweeted his condolences, adding: " A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time. I've asked for the flag at No10 to be flown at half mast."
TRIBUTES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
David Cameron led tributes to South Africa's first black president Nelson Mandela tonight, saying "a great light has gone out in the world".
The flag at No 10 will be flown at half-mast in honour of the former leader, who was a "hero of our time", the Prime Minister said.
Taking to Twitter, he wrote: " A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time. I've asked for the flag at No10 to be flown at half mast."
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls wrote: " Seeing Nelson Mandela walking free is one of the great moments of my life - proving leadership and hope can triumph. Thank-you. RIP"
Baroness (Betty) Boothroyd, the former Commons speaker, fondly recalled the memories about a visit President Mandela made in 1996.
She said: "I welcomed many leaders to Westminster when I was Speaker but he was by far the most remarkable.
"His speech to the joint Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall in 1996 was a masterpiece of reconciliation after the bitter years of apartheid. He represented 'an outstanding victory of the human spirit over evil', I told him.
"He wrote to me afterwards of his delight at the pomp and ceremony of the occasion and its 'majesty and dignity'.
"H e was especially touched by the Queen's graciousness towards him and the warmth of the British people.
"He was kind enough to add 'It is friends like yourself who have contributed to making our country the democratic rainbow nation we are today'.
"His modesty during that visit was extraordinary and people loved him all the more because of it. One anecdote illustrates his foresight. On his arrival at the entrance to the Commons, I cautioned him about the treacherous steps in Westminster Hall and said we would take them at his pace.
'Don't worry', he replied. 'I came to look at them at six o'clock this morning'. With that, the trumpets sounded, he took my hand and we entered together without mishap. He had foreseen the difficulty and worked out the solution hours before.
"He was still looking forward when we last met in South Africa when I went there as Chancellor of the Open University. he said that when he finally entered the pearly gates he would join the local branch of the African National Congress."
Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny described Mr Mandela's death as "a great light extinguished".
"The name Mandela stirred our conscience and our hearts. It became synonymous with the pursuit of dignity and freedom across the globe," Mr Kenny said.
The Taoiseach said Mr Mandela changed life in South Africa, and humanity.
"As we mark his passing, we give thanks for the gift of Nelson Mandela. We ask that his spirit continues to inspire, guide and enlighten us as we strive to bring freedom and dignity to the family of man, our brothers and sisters, across the world," he said.
"I offer my deepest sympathies, on behalf of the Irish Government and people, to his family, to his friends and supporters, and to the Government and the people of South Africa."
Former prime minister Tony Blair said the political leader was a "great man" who had made racism "not just immoral but stupid".
"He was a unique political figure at a unique moment in history," he said.
" Through his leadership, he guided the world into a new era of politics in which black and white, developing and developed, north and south, despite all the huge differences in wealth and opportunity, stood for the first time together on equal terms.
" Through his dignity, grace and the quality of his forgiveness, he made racism everywhere not just immoral but stupid; something not only to be disagreed with, but to be despised. In its place he put the inalienable right of all humankind to be free and to be equal.
"I worked with him closely, and remember well his visits to Downing Street. He was a wonderful man to be around, with a sharp wit, extraordinary political savvy and a lovely way of charming everyone in a building.
"He would delight in making sure that the person on the door or serving the tea would feel at home with him and be greeted by him with the same kindness and respect he would show a leader. So the warmth of his personality was equal to the magnitude of his contribution to the world.
"He was a great man, a great leader and the world's most powerful symbol of reconciliation, hope and progress."
Labour leader Ed Miliband said: " The world has lost the global hero of our age. Nelson Mandela showed us the true meaning of courage, hope, and reconciliation."
In a more detailed statement put out by Downing Street, Mr Cameron said: "A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a towering figure in our time; a legend in life and now in death - a true global hero.
"Across the country he loved they will be mourning a man who was the embodiment of grace.
"Meeting him was one of the great honours of my life. My heart goes out to his family - and to all in South Africa and around the world whose lives were changed through his courage."
Christian Aid chief executive Loretta Minghella described Mandela as a "man whose strength of vision founded a nation".
"The sufferings and injustices inflicted by apartheid could so easily have led to a reckoning in blood when majority rule was introduced," said Ms Minghella.
"The fact that South Africa's transition from pariah state to independent nation took place in relative peace was largely down to the magnanimity and moral courage of Mr Mandela.
"His readiness to eschew revenge after 27 years in prison was an example to all. His calm and restraint showed the people, not just of South Africa but the world, that justice and tolerance can prevail over fear and oppression.
"He was that rare creature, a person of immense power who used his energies and influence for the good of all. He will be sorely missed."
World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim said: " We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. On behalf of the World Bank Group staff, I convey my deepest sympathies to Graca Machel, Nelson Mandela's family, and the South African people.
"The world has lost a man who brought a rainbow of possibilities to a country that was segregated into black and white.
"But his gifts to humankind remain with us. He taught the world that no matter the sins of the past, no matter the horror of apartheid, the way ahead toward peace was to forgive but not forget, to remember what happened but also to offer a hand in order to start anew.
"We are humbled by his leadership. We are inspired by his commitment to reconciliation. He showed us that fundamental change is possible and must be pursued when the freedom and well-being of people are at stake.
"On this sad day, our thoughts are with the South African people."
In a statement released through NBC News, former US president George W Bush said: " President Mandela was one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our time.
"He bore his burdens with dignity and grace, and our world is better off because of his example.
"This good man will be missed, but his contributions will live on forever. Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathy to President Mandela's family and to the citizens of the nation he loved."
US president Barack Obama said the world has lost an influential, courageous and "profoundly good" man.
Mr Obama said Mandela "no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages."
Speaking from the White House, Mr Obama said he was one of the countless millions around the world who was influenced by Mandela.
He met Mr Mandela's family earlier this year when he visited South Africa. But he did not meet the ailing leader, who was in hospital throughout his visit.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, said: " The death of President Nelson Mandela was announced in memorable words by President Zuma.
"South Africa has lost its greatest citizen and its father.
"Nelson Mandela, fighting to the end, is freed to be with his God in joy and reward for his great service and sacrifice.
"We pray for his family, for his friends and for his country.
"We are challenged to show the same degree of humanity, of courage and of generosity."
Former prime minister Gordon Brown said: "Nelson Mandela was the greatest leader of our generation. A leader of magnanimity, fortitude, unshakeable optimism and most of all, the most courageous man I ever met.
"True courage requires not only strength of will but strength of belief. What motivated Nelson Mandela and drove him to risk his life for freedom was a burning passion that irrespective of colour, race and background, all people are created equal - and his list of historic achievements starts with a multiracial South Africa.
"Every accolade in the world was awarded to him but the one he prized most was Children's Champion. As he said in his book, he had climbed one mountain, but there is another still to climb - dignity for every child.
"He was the greatest of Africans. He had greatness as vast as the continent he loved. He had within him the greatness of the human soul. And for me, he was a good and great friend. With Graca, his beloved wife and his family we all today mourn his death, but we celebrate the greatness of his life."
In a fuller statement Mr Miliband said: "The world has lost the inspirational figure of our age.
"Nelson Mandela taught people across the globe the true meaning of courage, strength, hope and reconciliation.
"From campaigner to prisoner to president to global hero, Nelson Mandela will always be remembered for his dignity, integrity and his values of equality and justice.
"He was an activist who became president and a president who always remained an activist. Right to the end of his life he reminded the richest nations of the world of their responsibilities to the poorest.
"Above all, he showed us the power of people, in the cause of justice, to overcome the mightiest obstacles.
"He moved the world and the world will miss him deeply.
"During the struggle against apartheid, the Labour Party was proud to stand with the people of South Africa in solidarity. Today we stand with the people of South Africa in mourning."
Mr Obama added that the former South African leader represented the fight for freedom and dignity throughout the world.
He said: "Madiba transformed South Africa and moved all of us. His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings and countries can change for the better.
"His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example all humanity should aspire to, whether in the lives of nations all our own personal ones."
"He achieved more than can be expected of any one man."
He added: " I cannot imagine my own life without Mandela's example and so long as I live, I will do what I can to learn from him."
THE UNOFFICIAL PRESIDENT OF THE WORLD
Whether in or out of prison, Nelson Mandela was a crowd-puller.
The man dubbed the Unofficial President of the World could bring adoring crowds out onto the streets like no-one else on the planet.
Both rich and poor flocked to see him in Trafalgar Square in London in 1996.
And thousands more came to the square again when the frail statesman launched the Make Poverty History campaign nine years later.
An earlier generation, who knew him only through grainy black and white photographs, stood on the same spot for freedom vigils during his 27 years in jail.
It was a joyous, colourful scene when he stepped out on to the balcony at South Africa House in July 1996, two years after becoming South Africa's President.
On that emotional state visit, he thanked the British people for their support in destroying apartheid.
He said: "I wish I had big pockets because I love each and everyone of you. I would like to put each and everyone of you in my pocket and return with you to South Africa."
Many had waited hours in the summer sun to catch a glimpse. Many were in tears. Huge cheers erupted.
Early that morning 12ft deep crowds had gathered in Brixton, south London, to see him.
The Prince of Wales was also part of the walkabout, but it was obvious who was the main attraction.
The pomp and ceremony of the state visit quickly disappeared in scenes unprecedented for a foreign leader, as good-natured crowds leapt over security barriers to try and touch Mandela.
In the post-apartheid era, he became a tireless traveller, making up for his years of isolation.
He relished forging foreign friendships and the world's foremost power brokers competed to host grand receptions in his honour even though his speeches were often controversial.
Mandela was said to enjoy a great friendship with the Queen. His first visit to Britain was in April 1990 as deputy president of the African National Congress.
His first meeting with the then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher was in July of that year. Just ahead of that meeting, he said Britain should start negotiating with the IRA, leaving Thatcher's Government ruffled. But their talks ended with Mr Mandela describing her as "a woman I can do business with".
They differed in attitude to economic sanctions against Pretoria and the use of violence by the ANC, but they found common ground in their opposition to apartheid.
In May 1993, Mandela shone a light on Britain's own racial problems when he met the grieving parents of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence.
Mandela, who had addressed both Houses of Parliament the night before, said: "We are deeply touched by the brutality of this murder, even though it is commonplace in our country. It seems black lives are cheap.
"The evil of racism is taking away innocent lives. The problems of racism and fascism is threatening the whole world."
He received numerous awards. Glasgow gave him the Freedom of the City in 1981 while he was in his 17th year of imprisonment.
By the time he collected the award in October 1993, nine regions - Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Greenwich, Islwyn, Hull, Midlothian, Newcastle and Sheffield - had granted him the honour.
Mandela was awarded the Freedom of the City of Dublin while in prison in September 1988, almost 18-years before local hero Bob Geldof.
He was named the greatest humanitarian hero of the past 60 years in a poll by the Red Cross in 2004. More than a quarter of the 2,000 people surveyed chose him ahead of Princess Diana, followed by Bob Geldof, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Kofi Annan and Tony Blair, and Winston Churchill.
An appearance at the opening of the June 2003 Dublin Special Olympics triggered the kind of excitement last seen when Pope John Paul II visited Ireland in 1979 when a million people attended Mass in Phoenix Park.
Rock legend Bono raced on stage to hail Mandela as 85,000 fans raised the roof in Croke Park. Bono dedicated U2's classic anthem Pride to the great man.
Mandela listened to top Irish bands in concert, danced his trademark African jig of joy and received a standing ovation as he returned to his seat.
Despite officially retiring in June 2004, his charity work for Aids victims and anti-poverty campaigns saw him continue to clock up the miles.
In February 2005, Mandela, introduced by Bob Geldof as "the Unofficial President of the World", returned to Trafalgar Square to ask rich countries such as Britain to help make poverty history.
Ahead of addressing finance ministers from the G7 industrialised countries later that week, he told the crowds: "Poverty is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity, it's an act of justice."
He was back in London in 2007 when his statue joined those of other great leaders such as Sir Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Disraeli in Parliament Square.
Lord Attenborough, director of the anti-apartheid film Cry Freedom, and Wendy Woods, the widow of newspaper editor Donald Woods, campaigned for the statue.
It was the brainchild of Mr Woods, a committed anti-apartheid activist forced to flee his country with his wife and five children and come to the UK as a refugee.
And in August of that year Mr Mandela and his wife Graca Machel joined the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the unveiling of the 9ft-high bronze.
Talking to crowds who gathered for the unveiling, Mr Mandela said: "Though this statue is of one man, it should in actual fact symbolise
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