Today 06 December
South Africans called it the "Madiba magic" after his clan name -- Nelson Mandela's quirky mix of grandeur and simplicity, his ready quips, his ability to relate to the poor, his colourful custom-made shirts and his dancing prowess. Mandela -- who succumbed to a recurrent lung infection on Thursday aged 95 -- drew politicians from around the world, as well as ordinary children and adults keen to get a glimpse of the freedom icon who spent 27 years in prison. Many remember his solemn inauguration as South Africa's first black president on May 20, 1994 at the age of 75, when he shuffled a few steps in perfect time despite the wear and tear on his body, fists clenched, with a beaming smile. Parodied too, in many bars in South Africa, was his distinctive accent -- a slow, punctuated growl.
Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid tribute to Nelson Mandela Friday as a champion of peace despite his tireless advocacy of the Palestinian cause. Peres said the South Africa liberation leader was "above all a builder of bridges of peace and dialogue who paid a heavy personal price for his struggle in the years he spent in prison and fighting for his people." "Nelson Mandela was a fighter for human rights who left an indelible mark on the struggle against racism and discrimination," Peres said. Both men won the Nobel Peace Prize -- Mandela in 1993 and Peres the following year alongside the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
F.W de Klerk, the former South African president who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela, on Friday paid tribute to his successor while recalling their "often stormy" relationship. "It was an honour to work with former president Nelson Mandela in bringing democracy to South Africa," de Klerk said in a statement after the death of the anti-apartheid hero. When Mandela was finally released from prison in February 1990 he was entrusted with the task of persuading the new president de Klerk to call time on the era of racist white minority rule. Mandela and de Klerk, South Africa's last white president, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their role in the ending of apartheid.
Nelson Mandela's Rainbow Nation awoke Friday to a future without its 95-year-old founding father, his compatriots joining an upwelling of global mourning and celebration of his astonishing life. The icon of South Africa's anti-apartheid struggle and a colossus of 20th century politics died late Thursday at his home in Johannesburg, surrounded by friends and family. Outside his home mourners, some in pyjamas, held an all-night vigil, dancing, ululating, chanting and singing the songs of a struggle that Mandela devoted his life to winning. In Cape Town, Archbishop Desmond Tutu led an emotional early morning prayer, expressing a steely determination that Mandela's vision of a South Africa for all creeds and colours shall not perish with him.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — People across South Africa are commemorating Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers as the government prepares funeral ceremonies that will draw leaders and other dignitaries from around the globe.
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