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South Africa's archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu made an emotional tribute to his late friend Nelson Mandela on Friday, calling him an "incredible gift" to the nation, transcending race and class. Speaking slowly and often on the verge of tears, Tutu said Mandela was "a unifier from the moment he walked out of prison," after 27 years behind bars. In a tribute delivered often with closed eyes, the visibly moved fellow Nobel Peace laureate who is seen as South Africa's moral beacon, described Mandela as an "incredible gift that God gave us".
A boxer in his youth, avid fan of Bafana Bafana national football team and in later years the Springboks, for Nelson Mandela sport was not only a leisure but a weapon to be used to crush apartheid and unite South Africans into a "rainbow" nation. Former Springbok captain Francois Pienaar, who led South Africa to their 1995 triumph and was handed the trophy by Mandela, paid tribute to the country's first black president. "Nelson Mandela was the most extraordinary and incredible human being, not only because he united his country when such a task seemed impossible but also because, through his unique humanity, he inspired hundreds of millions of people across the globe," said Pienaar. "It was my great fortune and privilege to receive the Webb Ellis Cup from Madiba at the conclusion of the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, creating what has become an iconic image of national success, unity and reconciliation that resonates with all South Africans.
Across Africa Nelson Mandela was hailed as a hero on Friday, but amid official speeches of praise, many Africans on the streets compared the example he set with the failings of their countries' leaders today. "Mandela was a world leader from Africa, a great man we could all look up to," said Alfred Osuku in the rainy Kenyan capital of Nairobi, clutching the newspapers he was selling with their front pages dedicated to the late South African liberation leader. "Leaders in Africa today would benefit from his example if they followed his way and not only just speak about it," he added.
Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Palestinian leaders on Friday drew on the legacy of Nelson Mandela, a high-profile supporter of their cause, likening his fight against apartheid to their own struggle to end Israeli occupation. Tributes to the late South African leader, whose death was announced Thursday, flooded in from Palestinian leaders. Their tone was far more politicised than the eulogies of their Israeli counterparts, and came as US Secretary of State John Kerry wound up another mission aimed at boosting fragile peace talks. "You said: 'We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians'," invoked jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghuti in an "open letter" to Mandela.