South Africa and world mourn Mandela

JOHANNESBURG - South Africans have gathered in Johannesburg and Soweto to mourn their former leader, Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday aged 95.

Crowds paid tribute, dancing and singing in front of Mr Mandela's former home in Soweto throughout the night.

Flags flew at half mast after President Jacob Zuma announced his death in a late night national TV address.

Mr Mandela spent 27 years in jail before becoming South Africa's first black president in 1994.

His administration replaced the racist white-minority regime that had enforced segregation of black and white people in a policy known as apartheid.

Scenes from around the globe in the hours after Nelson Mandela's death as world leaders, South Africans, and our own journalists react

Mr Mandela went on to become one of the world's most respected statesmen.

A service of national mourning will be held at a 95,000-seater stadium on the outskirts of Johannesburg. His body will then lie in state for three days in the capital, Pretoria, before being taken for a state funeral in the village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape, where he grew up.

"God was so good to us in South Africa by giving us Nelson Mandela to be our president at a crucial moment in our history," said long-time ally Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

Nelson Mandela

1918 Born in the Eastern Cape

1943 Joins ANC

1956 Charged with high treason, but charges dropped after a four-year trial

1962 Jailed for five years for incitement and leaving country without a passport

1964 Charged with sabotage, sentenced to life

1990 Freed from prison

1993 Wins Nobel Peace Prize

1994-99 Serves as president

2004 Retires from public life

2005 Announces his son has died of an HIV/Aids-related illness

At a service in Cape Town on Friday, he said Mr Mandela had "taught a divided nation to come together".

Mr Mandela had been suffering from a lung illness for a long time.

He had been receiving treatment at home since September, when he was discharged from hospital.

As soon as the news broke, small crowds began to gather in Soweto's Vilakazi Street, where Mr Mandela lived in the 1940s and 1950s.

Crowds chanted apartheid-era songs, including one with the lyrics: "We have not seen Mandela in the place where he is, in the place where he is kept."

The announcement of Mandela's death was made by President Jacob Zuma

By daybreak, dozens more had gathered.

"We are celebrating his life and all that he did for us," said one of the mourners, Terry Mokoena.

Crowds also gathered outside Mr Mandela's current home, in Johannesburg's northern suburb of Houghton, where he died.

Across the world, leaders, celebrities and members of the public have been paying tribute.

"He achieved more than could be expected of any man. Today, he has gone home," said US President Barack Obama.

When Africans mourn, they do it through song, dance and music. So as South Africans awoke to news of Nelson Mandela's death, crowds had begun gathering outside his homes in Houghton and Soweto.

They are mourning him through songs of struggle and church hymns. One of the songs is "Nelson Mandela ha hona ea tshwanang le yena" which in Sotho means there is no-one like Nelson Mandela. This song and many others like it encapsulate the deep sense of loss here and the realisation that his passing marks the end of an era.

Even South Africans who had never met him had made a special place for him in their hearts. They will remember him as the father of the nation, who brought an end to apartheid and delivered the nation from the brink of civil war.

The mood is a combination of sombreness and reflection. His passing has brought unity amongst South Africans as black and white speak of their love for him. Many here will be drawing on that same spirit for strength, that "Madiba magic" over the next few days and weeks.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called him "a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration".

Flags are flying at half-mast on government buildings in Washington DC, Paris and across South Africa.

Books of condolence will be opened at public buildings in South Africa and at the country's embassies throughout the world.

Next Monday is expected to be the start of South Africa's official mourning, with a service in Soweto's FNB stadium.

Mr Mandela's body will lie in state for three days at the Union buildings in Pretoria before a funeral is held on Saturday in Qunu, the village in Eastern Cape where he was born.

The BBC's Mike Wooldridge in Johannesburg says South Africa will never have seen a state funeral like it, with leaders, dignitaries and other admirers of the former president expected from all over the world.

It will be a huge logistical challenge, especially given the remoteness of Qunu, our correspondent adds.

In his TV address, Mr Zuma said Mr Mandela had died shortly before 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT).

"Our nation has lost its greatest son," Mr Zuma said.

"Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss."

Mr Mandela won admiration around the world when he preached reconciliation after being freed from almost three decades of imprisonment.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 along with FW de Klerk, South Africa's last white president.

Mr de Klerk, who ordered Mr Mandela's release from jail, called him a "unifier" and said he had "a remarkable lack of bitterness".

He told the BBC that Mr Mandela's greatest legacy was that "we are basically at peace with each other notwithstanding our great diversity, that we will be taking hands once again now around his death and around our common sadness and mourning".

Comments (18)

Kunoenda vakanaka kuchisara vakaipa ko nhai Musiki madii kutora apo apo ipapo patinogwarira

MukarangawekuMberengwa - 6 December 2013

I am devastated by the demise of that great man. However, there is nothing we can do but to celebrate the life of perhaps the greatest statesman the world has ever seen. Though Mandela was a trained soldier (he trained in Algeria) he never used that to intimidate others. Nelson's mastery of the law was evident in South African courts as he defended downtrodden South Africans in apartheid S.A. Mandela was a fiery speaker and a great political organizer who later came to be known as the Black Pimpernel. His defence of himself in the Rivonia Trial is nothing but the stuff of legends. R.I.P Nelson Mandela.

Feldman Bandura - 6 December 2013

R.I.P Madiba. A true leader. A compass in deed. You showed us the direction i hope this Lucifer across the Limpopo will reform after this. You did not go to any foreign country or Singapore to seek treatment, you did it in your country. R.I.P. Madiba

Chatunga - 6 December 2013

Rest in eternal Peace, Madiba

hardlife - 6 December 2013

the african icon, may his soul rest in peace

cosmas - 6 December 2013

The one thing he did for people of his pigmentation was give them back a sense of dignity all over the world..that not all of Africa was made up of blood sucking vampires and unashamed thieves who found no irony in banking the loot they stole in the same European banks they taught us all to hate..Unfettered hypocrites this lot, who did not care one hoot one hoot how many of Africa's children they killed with these brazen thefts and murders..It is a new world that he leaves behind, we have seen the first black of the United States and Obama said it himself he was inspired to achieve this by Nelson Mandela...is this not fitting tribute to an icon? One thing that history will not take away from this great man is this...he made reproduction of little Mandelas through out the continent possible...Given another ten years on the current course the majority of countries in the continent will be habitable places..such was the inspiration he breathed into the continent. As we gaze out at the stars tonight, Africa can be proud that one of theirs lights the galaxy in the sky...In death he becomes even stronger and brighter..RIP African teacher!

gutter poet - 6 December 2013

At last his soul has rested... Go well Mr Mandela!!!!!

NOTHANDO MABIKWA - 6 December 2013

Rest in peace GREAT MAN, you were my inspiration since childhood. I read No Easy Walk To Freedom While I was in Grade six.

Simbarashe Madzana - 6 December 2013

What a great loss to South Africa and the whole world. God find it worth to take the greatest statesman of our generation the world has ever seen. Due to much affliction due to his advanced age, we humbly accept God's appointed time for his departure. Mr Mandela was a symbol of peace, intergrity, sacrifice and selfless and great symplicity enough to draw the love of the poor and the rich, young and old from amongst all colors of people . Rest in peace Tata Cde Mandela is unlike most people

Musa - 6 December 2013

I am so sorry

jack - 6 December 2013

A great and exra-ordinary personality indeed,you will be missed by many.RIP

tendai mudavanhu - 6 December 2013

there will never be the likes of you papa Mandela. may your soul rest in peace.

atz - 6 December 2013

This is the end of an era. RIP son of the soil.

Mhofu ye Mukono - 6 December 2013

This is the end of an era. RIP son of the soil.

Mhofu ye Mukono - 6 December 2013

rest in peace madiba mandela, we will miss yu whole heartedly.

chitova 2 - 6 December 2013

it was not an easy road but he sailed through. i think the legacy he has left need to be the basis of our future leadership. everyone has potential to be like him and it will be good to emulate him. Arise and shine Africa. It does not matter where you come from but what you choose now and do. Mandela didnt have shoes or pair of trousers but look at what he has left for us as humankind. Even if he is long gone,he will always be rememberd. If you are a leader,ask yourself,What kind of legacy am l leaving.....Will it be worth rememberin.....??

Carrots - 6 December 2013

it was not an easy road but he sailed through. i think the legacy he has left need to be the basis of our future leadership. everyone has potential to be like him and it will be good to emulate him. Arise and shine Africa. It does not matter where you come from but what you choose now and do. Mandela didnt have shoes or pair of trousers but look at what he has left for us as humankind. Even if he is long gone,he will always be rememberd. If you are a leader,ask yourself,What kind of legacy am l leaving.....Will it be worth rememberin.....??

Carrots - 6 December 2013

A true leader,an icon , rest in peace the president , you will be sadly missed

Julius Musara - 6 December 2013

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