Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela Dead at 95

Nelson Mandela, who guided South Africa from the shackles of apartheid to multi-racial democracy and became an international icon of peace and reconciliation, died Thursday at age 95.

Imprisoned for nearly three decades for his fight against white minority rule, Mandela emerged determined to use his prestige and charisma to bring down apartheid while avoiding a civil war.

"The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come," Mandela said in his acceptance speech on becoming South Africa's first black president in 1994.

"We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation."

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.

In 1993, Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, an honour he shared with F.W. de Klerk, the white Afrikaner leader who freed him from prison three years earlier and negotiated the end of apartheid.

Mandela went on to play a prominent role on the world stage as an advocate of human dignity in the face of challenges ranging from political repression to AIDS.

He formally left public life in June 2004 before his 86th birthday, telling his adoring countrymen: "Don't call me. I'll call you". But he remained one of the world's most revered public figures, combining celebrity sparkle with an unwavering message of freedom, respect and human rights.

"We give thanks for his life, his leadership, his devotion to humanity and humanitarian causes," said Hamba Kahle Madiba of The Nelson Mandela Foundation, The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and The Mandela Rhodes Foundation. "We salute our friend, colleague and comrade and thank him for his sacrifices for our freedom."

1 comment:

  1. I can remember sitting in front of the TV with my siblings and watching in anticipation of his release from prison. I was surprised at how filled my heart felt while watching him stride to freedom. It was the same feeling I felt while watching him ride through the Canyon of Heroes to a giant ticker tape parade in NYC.
    There really are no words that can adequately sum up such an expansive life of sacrifice for his people primarily but people worldwide were touched.
    May he rest in eternal peace.