Nelsan Mandela, former South African president and human rights icon, has sadly passed away peacefully at his Johannesburg home on Thursday after a prolonged lung infection at the age of 95. He was South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid icon.
“Although we knew that this day would come nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss,” said current South African president Jacob Zuma. Zuma also ordered that flags across South Africa be flown at half-mast until the funeral is held.
President Barack Obama said Nelson Mandela inspired millions of people across the world — including Obama himself — to work for freedom, justice, and democracy.
“I would study his words and his writings,” Obama said. “The day he was released from prison, he gave me a sense of what people could do when guided by their hopes, and not by their fears. He no longer belongs to us,” an emotional Obama said at the White House. “He belongs to the ages.”
Obama also stated that Mandela’s journey from prisoner to president embodied the promise that human beings could improve over time.
It is a sad and cold night in South Africa, but several people have gathered around Mandela’s home to in unity to sing “Tribute to Madiba.” Mandela was incredibly loved and respected worldwide. He carried the human cry for justice and freedom forward for his own people and all people at great personal sacrifice. Let us continue to be inspired by his legacy and continue the work in his honor.
Watch the crowd sing “Tribute to Madiba” here: