Nelson Mandela, the first popularly elected president of post-apartheid South Africa died today at home in Johannesburg. He was 95. Surrounded by family, he breathed his last at around 8:50 pm local time. This was announced by a sombre Jacob Zuma, the current president of South Africa, on TV. He said a “light had gone out in the world.” Mandela would be given a state funeral. All flags were ordered to fly at half-mast.
Johannes burg, Crescent-online
December 05, 2013, 17:47 EST
Nelson Mandela, icon of the anti-apartheid struggle, died at his home today around 8:50 pm local time (2:50 pm Toronto time), according to an announcement on television by President Jacob Zuma of South Africa.
In announcing Mandela’s death, Zuma said “a great light has gone out in the world.” The first black president of South Africa was in poor health had been taken to hospital in June. He was released in September after several weeks of treatment but remained in poor health. He was 95.
Mandela passed away peaceful in the company of his family at home in Johannesburg. In a sombre televised address, President Zuma announced that Mandela had “departed.”
“This is the moment of our deepest sorrow,” Zuma said. “Our nation has lost its greatest son … 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.”
All flags were ordered to fly at half-mast and Zuma said Mandela would be given a state funeral at which a number of world leaders are expected to attend.
His enduring legacy would not only be bringing an end to apartheid but initiating a process of reconciliation with the white tormentors to save South Africa from years of turmoil and possible civil war. It was his great spirit of forgiveness that saved South Africa this terrible fate.
He also chalked a different path from other African leaders by not clinging to power. After one term, he declined to run again although he would easily have won.
Affectionately known by his clan name, Madiba‚ he leaves behind a grieving people that are unlikely to see a leader of his stature for a very long time.
He was born Rolihlahla Dalibhunga in a small village in the Eastern Cape on July 18, 1918. He was given the name Nelson, by a teacher at school. This was common during the time when white men acting as masters determined what names Africans should take.
At his inauguration as the first black president of South Africa, elected by popular vote, he announced: “Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another ... the sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement. Let freedom reign. God bless Africa!”
Mandela had a total of six children, of whom three daughters survive: Pumla Makaziwe (Maki), Zenani and Zindziswa (Zindzi). He has 17 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.