SOUTH AFRICA - "Fellow South Africans, our beloved Nelson Rohlihla Mandela, the founding president of our democratic nation, has departed," President Jacob Zuma said in a nationally televised address.
Madiba, as he was affectionately known, was admired among most of South Africa's 53 million people as the architect of the 1994 transition to multi-racial democracy after three centuries of white domination.
His latest hospitalization before his death was his fourth in under six months.
When Mandela lay on his hospital bed, South Africans, and the world at large, prayed for him. PHOTO/AFP
Since stepping down in 1999 after one term as president, Mandela stayed out of active politics in a country with Africa’s biggest and most important economy.
His last public appearance was waving to fans from the back of a golf cart before the final of the soccer World Cup in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium in July 2010.
During his retirement, the ex-president divided his time between his home in the wealthy Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, and Qunu, the village in the poor Eastern Cape province where he was born.
The public's last glimpse of him was a brief clip aired by state television in April this year during a visit to his home by President Zuma and other senior officials of the ruling African National Congress.
At the time, the 101-year-old liberation movement, which led the fight against white-minority rule, assured the public Mandela was "in good shape", although the footage showed a thin and frail old man sitting expressionless in an armchair.
A tweet from the Nelson Mandela Twitter page
PROFILE: Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela
The anti-apartheid hero was born in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918. His father was Chief Henry Mandela of the Tembu Tribe.
- Mandela was educated at University College of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand and qualified in law in 1942. He joined the African National Congress in 1944 and was engaged in resistance against the ruling National Party's apartheid policies after 1948.
- He went on trial for treason in 1956-1961 and was acquitted in 1961.
- After the banning of the ANC in 1960, Nelson Mandela argued for the setting up of a military wing within the ANC.
- In June 1961, the ANC executive considered his proposal on the use of violent tactics and agreed that those members who wished to involve themselves in Mandela's campaign would not be stopped from doing so by the ANC.
- This led to the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years' imprisonment with hard labour.
- In 1963, when many fellow leaders of the ANC and the Umkhonto we Sizwe were arrested, Mandela was brought to stand trial with them for plotting to overthrow the government by violence.
- His statement from the dock received considerable international publicity. On June 12, 1964, eight of the accused, including Mandela, were sentenced to life imprisonment.
- From 1964 to 1982, he was incarcerated at Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town; thereafter, he was at Pollsmoor Prison, nearby on the mainland.
- During his years in prison, Nelson Mandela's reputation grew steadily. He was widely accepted as the most significant black leader in South Africa and became a potent symbol of resistance as the anti-apartheid movement gathered strength.
- He consistently refused to compromise his political position to obtain his freedom.
- Nelson Mandela was released on February 11, 1990. After his release, he plunged himself wholeheartedly into his life's work, striving to attain the goals he and others had set out almost four decades earlier.
- In 1991, at the first national conference of the ANC held inside South Africa after the organization had been banned in 1960, Mandela was elected President of the ANC.
- His lifelong friend and colleague, Oliver Tambo, became the organisation's National Chairperson.
Below is the full statement from the South African President Jacob Zuma
5 December 2013
My Fellow South Africans,
Our beloved Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding President of our democratic nation has departed.
He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 20h50 on the 5th of December 2013.
He is now resting. He is now at peace.
Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.
Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss.
His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world.
His humility, his compassion, and his humanity earned him their love. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family. To them we owe a debt of gratitude.
They have sacrificed much and endured much so that our people could be free.
Our thoughts are with his wife Mrs Graca Machel, his former wife Ms Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, with his children, his grand-children, his great grand-children and the entire family.
Our thoughts are with his friends, comrades and colleagues who fought alongside Madiba over the course of a lifetime of struggle.
Our thoughts are with the South African people who today mourn the loss of the one person who, more than any other, came to embody their sense of a common nationhood.
Our thoughts are with the millions of people across the world who embraced Madiba as their own, and who saw his cause as their cause.
This is the moment of our deepest sorrow.
Our nation has lost its greatest son.
Yet, what made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.
And in him we saw so much of ourselves.
Fellow South Africans,
Nelson Mandela brought us together, and it is together that we will bid him farewell.
Our beloved Madiba will be accorded a State Funeral.
I have ordered that all flags of the Republic of South Africa be lowered to half-mast from tomorrow, 6 December, and to remain at half-mast until after the funeral.
As we gather to pay our last respects, let us conduct ourselves with the dignity and respect that Madiba personified.
Let us be mindful of his wishes and the wishes of his family.
As we gather, wherever we are in the country and wherever we are in the world, let us recall the values for which Madiba fought.
Let us reaffirm his vision of a society in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another.
Let us commit ourselves to strive together – sparing neither strength nor courage – to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
Let us express, each in our own way, the deep gratitude we feel for a life spent in service of the people of this country and in the cause of humanity.
This is indeed the moment of our deepest sorrow.
Yet it must also be the moment of our greatest determination.
A determination to live as Madiba has lived, to strive as Madiba has strived and to not rest until we have realised his vision of a truly united South Africa, a peaceful and prosperous Africa, and a better world.
We will always love you Madiba!
May your soul rest in peace.
God Bless Africa.
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.
Adopted from www.thepresidency.gov.za
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