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South Africa Marks 1 Year Since Mandela's Death

  • Anita Powell

South Africa this week marks the first anniversary of the death of Nelson Mandela with ceremonies that will both mourn and celebrate the first leader of democratic South Africa.

President Jacob Zuma hailed Mandela, who died at age 95 on December 5, 2013, for his policy of reconciliation in the racially divided nation. Like many South Africans, Zuma referred to Mandela by his clan name, Madiba.

“As we remember Madiba this week, let us do so through recommitting ourselves to advancing his vision of unity, reconciliation, global peace, development, prosperity and a better life for all South Africans,” Zuma said in a statement.

27 years in prison

Mandela spent 27 years in prison for his opposition to the racist apartheid system.

He was released in 1990 and was subsequently elected the nation’s first black president in 1994.

Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his efforts to end apartheid and foster democracy. He shared the honor with South Africa’s last white president, F.W. de Klerk.

As part of the remembrances, officials will lay a wreath at Union Buildings, the seat of the presidency, in Pretoria, the capital.

The nation’s deputy president will also officiate at an interfaith service in Pretoria.

Mandela’s charitable foundation, located in Johannesburg, will put on display 4,850 condolence books and more than 3,000 condolence cards collected from around the world since his death.

“We have been deeply touched by the outpouring of love from virtually every corner of the world and are grateful to each and every person who has shared how they have been touched by our beloved Madiba,” said Sello Hatang, who heads the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Memorial service

Mandela’s main memorial service last year was attended by dignitaries from around the world - and by tens of thousands of ordinary South Africans, who braved pouring rain to attend the outdoor ceremony in Johannesburg on December 10, 2013.

Mandela’s body was later buried at his ancestral home in the remote town of Qunu, in South Africa’s rural Eastern Cape Province.

At the memorial service, President Barack Obama delivered a eulogy to the man he described as “a giant of history."

"We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again,” he said. “While I will always fall short of Madiba, he makes me want to be a better man."

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