Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Nelson Mandela death: World mourns South Africa's first black president

By Arwa Damon and Faith Karimi, CNN
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
Mourners sing outside the home of former South African President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg on Monday, December 9. The revered statesman, who emerged from prison to lead South Africa out of apartheid, died on Thursday, December 5. Mandela was 95. Mourners sing outside the home of former South African President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg on Monday, December 9. The revered statesman, who emerged from prison to lead South Africa out of apartheid, died on Thursday, December 5. Mandela was 95.
HIDE CAPTION
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
World reacts to Mandela's death
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mandela dies at age 95
  • Children spell out "We love you Mandela" with rocks near his home
  • "It's sad, but what can we do?" one resident asks. "Let him rest in peace."
  • A state funeral will be held December 15

Send us your stories, memories and photographs of the Nobel Peace prize winner and former South African president.

Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN) -- South Africans mourned the death of their first black president, weeping, singing and gathering near Nelson Mandela's homes and other landmarks linked to him nationwide.

Mandela, 95, died Thursday in Johannesburg.

"We will always love Madiba for teaching us that it is possible to overcome hatred and anger in order to build a new nation and a new society," President Jacob Zuma said Friday, referring to the revered statesman by his clan name.

In Soweto township, where Mandela lived before he was imprisoned for 27 years, giant posters of his face adorned streets. Residents surrounded his former red brick house on a busy street and sang songs of freedom.

On the grass near Mandela's home in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, children spelled out with rocks "We love you Mandela."

Others wept, lit candles and sang in celebration of a life well lived.

Tributes planned

A state funeral will be held December 15 in his ancestral hometown of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province.

Before the funeral, various events to honor him are planned in major cities.

Sunday will be a national day of prayer and reflection, and people will gather in places of worship to pray and meditate, Zuma said.

Nelson Mandela, the prisoner-turned-president who reconciled South Africa after the end of apartheid, died on Thursday, December 5, according to the country's president, Jacob Zuma. Mandela was 95. Nelson Mandela, the prisoner-turned-president who reconciled South Africa after the end of apartheid, died on Thursday, December 5, according to the country's president, Jacob Zuma. Mandela was 95.
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
The evolution of Nelson Mandela The evolution of Nelson Mandela
Pres. Obama reflects on Mandela's impact
Ex-wife: We interacted through prison bars
The five lives of Nelson Mandela

The official memorial service will be held Tuesday in First National Bank Stadium in Johannesburg.

And his body will lie in state at the seat of government in Pretoria from Wednesday through next Friday.

Zuma announced the death late Thursday in a nationally televised address.

"Our nation has lost its greatest son, our people have lost a father," he said. "Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss."

In recent years, Mandela had battled health issues that included multiple hospitalizations for treatment of a recurring lung infection.

Many South Africans didn't get the news until Friday morning.

"I woke up and was shocked when I saw it on television," said Wilson Mudau, a cabdriver in Johannesburg. "It's sad, but what can we do? Let him rest in peace. It's time ... Madiba has worked so hard to unite us."

Memorials worldwide

Nearly 8,000 miles north of Johannesburg, in Paris, leaders from 53 African countries attending a summit on peace and security observed a minute of silence for him Friday.

Memorials popped up from Los Angeles to Chicago, where mourners placed flowers and candles in front of murals bearing his likeness. In Washington, crowds gathered in front of the South African Embassy.

In Adelaide, Australia, cricket fans observed a moment of silence.

"I admired Mandela (because) he had not poisoned his heart," said Leo Udtohan of Bohol, Philippines. "He learned to forgive despite the horror he experienced while in prison."

At New York City's Apollo Theater in Harlem, which Mandela visited in 1990, the marquee lit up in tribute. "In memory of Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013," it said. "He changed our world."

Man of complexities

Mandela helped South Africa break the practice of racial segregation and do away with white minority rule.

Imprisoned for nearly three decades for his fight against state-sanctioned racial segregation, he was freed in 1990 and quickly set about working to unite the nation through forgiveness and reconciliation.

"As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison," Mandela said.

His rejection of vengeance led him to assume roles that led from freedom fighter to prisoner to a world symbol of the struggle against racial oppression.

And, four years after he left prison, he became the nation's first black president, cementing his place in the consciousness of the nation and the world.

"I'm just glad he finally found his place of rest," said Omekongo Dibinga of Washington. "From the family drama to his health problems, it just seemed like he could never get a break in his later years. Now I hope be can finally rest, but he'll probably still be watching down on us in frustration."

'We all knew he'd leave us'

His recent bouts of illness had prepared many South Africans for Thursday's announcement.

"We all knew he'd leave us at some point," said Tony Karuiru, a Johannesburg resident. "But we were hoping that he would be with us during the festive season. It's the holidays, I just wish God would have given him a few more days with us as well."

Thomas Rabodiba said though he expected Mandela's death, he was having a hard time accepting it.

"At first, when I heard he died, I thought it was the usual rumors we get all the time," he said. "After I heard the president's announcement later that the old man has departed, then I believed that he's really gone."

His legacy

Mandela will be remembered for many things, but his message of forgiveness and reconciliation may resonate the most.

"Mandela's biggest legacy ... was his remarkable lack of bitterness and the way he did not only talk about reconciliation, but he made reconciliation happen in South Africa," said F.W. de Klerk, South Africa's last white president and Mandela's predecessor.

Leaders react

Zuma has ordered flags around South Africa to be flown at half-staff until the funeral.

The U.S. government and Buckingham Palace also lowered their flags.

"Nelson Mandela achieved more than could be expected of any man," President Barack Obama said Thursday. "We have lost one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth. He no longer belongs to us -- he belongs to the ages."

In recent years, plans for a fitting farewell were hammered out among the government, the military and his family. Events over the next 10 days will culminate in a state funeral to be broadcast worldwide and a private farewell for those closest to him.

READ: Nelson Mandela: Man of many handshakes

READ: Mandela's words and deeds inspire

CNN's Arwa Damon reported from South Africa, and Faith Karimi and Tom Watkins reported and wrote from Atlanta.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 1728 GMT (0128 HKT)
Candles are lit under a portrait of Neslon Mandela before the funeral ceremony of South African former president Nelson Mandela in Qunu on December 15, 2013.
As 95 candles glowed in the background, mourners gathered for Nelson Mandela's state funeral Sunday.
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 1136 GMT (1936 HKT)
One candle burns for each year of Nelson Mandela's life, as family, friends, dignitaries and celebrities gather in his ancestral home, Qunu.
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 1036 GMT (1836 HKT)
CNN's Robyn Curnow is inside the Mandela family compound in Qunu as the state funeral service is ongoing.
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
Don't expect the man who fought to end apartheid and then led South Africa as its first black president to spend eternity pushing up just daisies.
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 0350 GMT (1150 HKT)
Not only is Nelson Mandela the former president of South Africa, but he is also a father, grandfather and even a great-grandfather.
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 0413 GMT (1213 HKT)
Nelson Mandela once said his wife, Graca Machel, makes him "bloom like a flower."
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 0849 GMT (1649 HKT)
South African pays tribute and thanks Nelson Mandela at the former leader's funeral in Qunu.
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 0845 GMT (1645 HKT)
South African President Jacob Zuma sings at the funeral of Nelson Mandela.
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 0725 GMT (1525 HKT)
Anti-apartheid veteran Ahmed Kathrada spent 26 years imprisoned with his close friend and confidant Nelson Mandela.
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 0408 GMT (1208 HKT)
The coffin carrying Nelson Mandela's body arrived Saturday in his ancestral village of Qunu, where he'll be buried.
December 14, 2013 -- Updated 2128 GMT (0528 HKT)
Crowds gather as Nelson Mandela's funeral convoy arrives at Mthatha Airport in South Africa's Eastern Cape.
December 13, 2013 -- Updated 1932 GMT (0332 HKT)
Beloved icon Nelson Mandela will be laid to rest on the farm where he grew up. CNN's Robyn Curnow gives an inside look.
December 13, 2013 -- Updated 1644 GMT (0044 HKT)
It might be timely to put aside out-of-date and ill-informed views of Africa, and see it the way Africans seem to: With a high level of optimism.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 0440 GMT (1240 HKT)
Mandela emerged from prison to lead his country out of racist apartheid rule with a message of reconciliation that inspired the world.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
The late South African President reflects on his imprisonment and his fight against apartheid.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 1457 GMT (2257 HKT)
Nelson Mandela, hailed for leading South Africa out of apartheid, wanted to be remembered as part of a collective and not in isolation.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Nelson Mandela
From revolutionary to revered statesman, Nelson Mandela left his inspirational mark on the world.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 2324 GMT (0724 HKT)
The only known footage of Nelson Mandela while at Robben Prison shows inside his cell and the former president in 1977.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1745 GMT (0145 HKT)
Mandela spent almost three decades in jail. But he had two Indian goddesses and a 17th century playwright for company.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1252 GMT (2052 HKT)
He was loved and admired the world over, profiled in books and movies. But even he has little-known facts buried in his biographies.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 2300 GMT (0700 HKT)
A file photo showing South African Nelson Mandela taking the presidential oath on May 10, 1994 during his inauguration at the Union Building in Pretoria.
April 27, 1994, was the crowning moment in Nelson Mandela's life -- the day South Africa held its first elections open to citizens of every race.
From a village birth, to political activism, to prison and emergence as a worldwide leader.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 2340 GMT (0740 HKT)
"No one is born hating another person ..." and more from Nelson Mandela in his own words
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1347 GMT (2147 HKT)
South African former President Nelson Mandela holds the Jules Rimet World cup, 15 May 2004 at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich.
"Sport has the power to change the world," Nelson Mandela once said -- and eloquently supported his claim.
June 27, 2013 -- Updated 0148 GMT (0948 HKT)
Browse through intimate images of Nelson Mandela, including the earliest known photograph believed to be taken in 1938.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1326 GMT (2126 HKT)
The Special AKA's "Free Nelson Mandela" became anti-apartheid anthem, and led to Mandela's release from prison after 27 years.
How will you remember Mandela? Send us your stories, memories and photographs.
ADVERTISEMENT