World Mourns as Nelson Mandela Dies
South African anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela died peacefully at home at the age of 95 after months fighting a lung infection, plunging his nation and the world into mourning for a man revered as a moral giant. The former president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate had been frail and ailing for nearly a year with a recurring lung illness that dated back to the 27 years he spent in apartheid jails, including the notorious Robben Island penal colony.
But while his passing had been long expected, President Jacob Zuma’s announcement of the death late on Thursday shook South Africa. The streets of the capital Pretoria and of Johannesburg were hushed, and in bars and nightclubs, music was turned off as people gathered to quietly talk about the news.
Tributes began flooding in almost immediately for a man who was a global symbol of struggle against injustice and of racial reconciliation. US President Barack Obama said the world had lost “one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth”.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron called Mandela “a hero of our time”. “A great light has gone out in the world,” he said. Praise also came from African leaders. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said the death “will create a huge vacuum that will be difficult to fill in our continent”.