News / Africa

South Africans Mourn Mandela

Nelson Mandela Dies at 95, World Mourns South Africa's Former Presidenti
December 06, 2013 4:29 AM
Nelson Mandela has died. The former president of South Africa is credited with ending Aparteid in that country. Mandela emerged from 27 years in prison to lead his country. VOA's Carolyn Presutti has the details.
Anita Powell
South Africa will hold a period of mourning unparalleled in the nation’s history, as the world marks the death of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.  South Africans have already made pilgrimages to his Johannesburg homes to leave flowers, candles and notes celebrating the life of the man credited with ending South Africa’s racist apartheid system. In the coming week, the government plans to honor him on a grand scale.
South Africa’s government plans to remember the nation’s first black president with events that celebrate his life while also addressing the deep void that many South Africans feel.

Mandela, who died late Thursday at the age of 95, will be laid to rest on Sunday, December 15, in a family ceremony in his ancestral home in the rural Eastern Cape town of Qunu.
South African President Jacob Zuma, who appeared haggard on Friday, said the nation will hold several events in the week before the burial.  
Like many South Africans, Zuma referred to the anti-apartheid icon by his clan name, Madiba.

  • People sing and dance during a gathering of mourners on Vilakazi Street in Soweto, Dec. 6, 2013.
  • A young girl with a poster of Nelson Mandela marches with others to celebrate his life, in the street outside his old house in Soweto, Johannesburg, Dec. 6, 2013.
  • Township residents march to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela in the street outside his old house in Soweto, Johannesburg, Dec. 6, 2013.
  • A woman cries as she holds a candle and a flower outside former South African President Nelson Mandela's house in Houghton, Dec. 5, 2013a
  • A girl holds a South African national flag as people mourn the death of Nelson Mandela outside Cape Town City Hall, Dec. 6, 2013.
  • Keaton Anderson, 10, poses for a photograph for his father Dijon Anderson as they visit the statue of Nelson Mandela at the South African Embassy in Washington, Dec. 5, 2013.
  • Newspapers with pictures of Nelson Mandela on the front page on sale in London, Dec. 6, 2013.
  • Schoolchildren hold candles and portraits of Nelson Mandela during a prayer ceremony at a school in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, Dec. 6, 2013.
  • A woman with a banner pays tribute to Nelson Mandela outside the South African High Commission in London, Dec. 6, 2013.
  • People release paper lanterns after lighting them outside Madiba, a restaurant named in honor of Nelson Mandela, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Dec. 5, 2013.
  • People listen to a radio as South African President Jacob Zuma announces the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela in Houghton, Dec. 5, 2013.
  • A man holds candles in front of a mural of former South African President Nelson Mandela and U.S. President Barack Obama in New York, Dec. 5, 2013.
  • Pedestrians pass beneath the Apollo Theater marquee commemorating the life of South African leader Nelson Mandela in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, Dec. 5, 2013.

“We will spend the week mourning his passing," he said."We will also spend it celebrating a life well-lived, a life that we must all emulate for the betterment of our country and Africa. Long live Madiba.”

Nelson Mandela

  • 1918 - Born in Transkei, South Africa
  • 1944 - Joined African National Congress
  • 1956 - Charged with treason, later acquitted
  • 1962 - Convicted of sabotage and sentenced to 5 years
  • 1964 - Sentenced to life in prison for plotting to overthrow the government
  • 1990 - Released from prison
  • 1991 - Elected president of ANC
  • 1993 - Won Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1994 - Elected president of South Africa
  • 1999 - Decided not to seek a second term as president
  • 2004 - Retired from public life
  • 2007 - Formed The Elders group
  • 2011 - Briefly hospitalized for a chest infection
  • 2012 - Hospitalized again,this time for gallstones
  • 2013 - Treated for a recurring lung infection, dies on Dec. 5
The week of events begins this coming Sunday, with a national day of prayer. On Tuesday, the government will hold an official memorial service at a stadium in Johannesburg.  That event is expected to draw massive crowds.

The White House says President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will travel to South Africa next week to pay respects to Mandela.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday the Obamas will participate in memorial events, adding that he will announce more details when they become available.

Every living U.S. president is expected to attend Mr. Mandela's funeral, health permitting.
His body will next lie in state for three days in Pretoria’s Union Buildings, where Mandela worked as South Africa’s first black president. At the same time, South Africa’s provinces will hold their own memorial services.
Mandela’s death has been marked around the world, and many dignitaries and world leaders are expected to converge on South Africa in coming days.
The United Nations held a full minute of silence. U.S. President Barack Obama rushed out of a Hanukah dinner at the White House to call Mandela “one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will ever share time with on this earth.”
Britain’s Prince William, who learned of Mandela’s death at the glitzy London premiere of a Hollywood biopic about Mandela, said the death of the icon was "extremely sad and tragic.”
His grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II - who Mandela called “my friend, Elizabeth” - said she was “deeply saddened.”
Zuma acknowledged the swift and overwhelming international reaction to Mandela’s death.

“The outpouring of love that we experienced locally and abroad was unprecedented," he said. "It demonstrates the caliber of a leader that Madiba was. We will always love Madiba for teaching us that it is possible to overcome hatred and anger in order to create a new nation and a new society.”
The emotional peak of the next week is expected to come at Tuesday’s ceremony in the Soweto soccer stadium that hosted the first and last games of the World Cup in 2010.
That stadium was also the scene of Mandela’s last public appearance. On the final night of the World Cup, he took to the soccer pitch to wave at the crowd of nearly 85,000 spectators gathered there for the match.
Slowly, the frail, white-haired old man made his way around the field on a little golf cart.  He waved, and smiled - and the entire stadium went wild with joy.

Interactive Timeline: The Life of Nelson Mandela

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Comments page of 2
December 08, 2013 3:17 AM
He ws a friend,brothr,father,grandfather,,great grandfather,,,he ws everythng in the world.Tata u hv done a lot 2 show us a way 2 succeed nw its tym 4 u 2 get a long rest,MAY Yo. DEAREST,BELOVED. SOUL RIP until. We meet agan.GOD BLESS U

by: tomas from: u.s.a
December 07, 2013 6:27 PM
rest in peace African, Heroes!

by: AAR from: Global
December 07, 2013 4:51 PM
Mandela was without a doubt a Great leader, a global hero an icon a legend....his legacy will live on, he had a imperfect personal life and as all great men or women are multilayered and complex. South Africa and the World is much the better from his walk among us and we mourn his loss....

by: Leigh Kilsdonk from: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
December 07, 2013 2:14 PM
I've been keeping updated on news of Nelson Mandela ever since I've heard of him. Especially since he became ill. I understand what he was such an important icon around the world, and I hope to see everybody around the world lead by Mandela's wonderful example. The entire world should also keep him in our hearts always, with fondness.

December 07, 2013 8:06 AM

by: Haron from: Afghanistan
December 07, 2013 6:39 AM
I summarize my opinion that I appreciate for this kind of Person, Father, Husband, Friend, Colleague and finally a president that everyone pride (proud) on him as a human. not as a president that we have right now.

by: Abdullahi from: Yola adamaw ng
December 07, 2013 5:52 AM
May god

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 06, 2013 8:49 PM
Now I learned from some postings on this forum that there are controversies for honoring him unconditionally when taking account of his personal family affairs. Although his words addressed before the public sounds decive, noble and forceful, he might have had another aspect of weak, sensitive and even carnal personality.

Yet, regardless of his personality, it is the fact that he fought for the civil rights of the black for a long time and he was the president when Apartheit was eventually abolished with consent from his predecessor, Frederik Willem de Klerk. He must deserve national mourning ceremony.

By the way, I became to want to know about de Klerk, the man probably also having played an important role for abolishing Apartheit.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
December 06, 2013 1:25 PM
Yes it is a time of pouring praises on the one who lived and is now no more. Many things go for him: the first black president of South Africa, the first and only real democrat of modern Africa, the one who went to jail for 27yrs to wrestle power from the apartheid regime, etc. Well and good, Mandela was all that, and perhaps more. I could even add that he was the only ruler in Africa, with the exception of Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, that did not have the devilish desire to rule the country forever for personal gains only. In Nigeria we had rulers too who came from prison to become president but after tasting power wanted to perpetuate themselves in office to become live presidents. In that regard, I think Mandela is yet to have a peer in Africa, Middle East and Asia. Yet, with all the things going for him, he was still not the saint he should have been.

South African president Jacob Zuma said "We will also spend it(the week) celebrating a life well-lived, a life that we must all emulate for the betterment of our country and Africa... We will always love Madiba for teaching us that it is possible to overcome hatred and anger in order to create a new nation and a new society..." Agreed there are things to emulate in him, politically, but I also think there are teachings of his style that are not worthy of emulation. Here is one man who could forgive Pieta Botha, then apartheid ruler of South Africa, who committed many atrocities against the ordinary South Africans including enslaving them in their own country; here is a man who taught the world and African rulers to rule with fairness and leave while the ovation was still high; here is one man who preached reconciliation and forgiveness but never applied it personal. It was like playing to the gallery. Nelson Mandela would have worth it, in my opinion, if he practiced it as he preached it.

Charity, they say, begins at home. For 27yrs a woman waited on him, passed through many odds, many of which were life-threatening; here was a man who could look the one love of his life that sunk everything about her into defending her husband in apartheid detention in the face and tell her, "to hell with you and your patience!" This was a horrible thing to do. If he could forgive the apartheid regime, if he could preach forgiveness, if he could preach reconciliation in the country, why did he not show practical example by extending it to Winnie Mandela who spent 27yrs of loneliness keeping the flame of the liberation struggle burning, fighting every inch of the day to achieve the feat, waiting for his return... 27yrs of waiting in vane to be reunited with the love of her life, only to be shown the gates when he was released. That is not the way to be my hero.
In Response

by: Bongiwe Chili from: Johannesburg, South Afica
December 06, 2013 3:52 PM
Goodwin, I can honestly say that I shared your feelings at some point and it became my obsession to find out why such a man would do something like that. But you need to get to know the great man that Tata was. If you have researched and followed up on what the separation and subsequent divorce from Mama Winnie - you will know that it was one of the most difficult and painful decisions he ever had to make. He loved Mama Winnie and never blamed her for everything that had happened instead blaming himself for not being there to protect her in the emotional abuse and incarcerations that she was subjected to. As you can see - there was never anything to forgive.

Not all of us are brave enough to deny our heart's desires for the greater good and for the benefit of others. Madiba knew the vision that he had in his heart for a South Africa that was reconciled (a Rainbow Nation) and he also knew - as all South Africans knew - that Mama Winnie was still very hurt, bitter and did not share the same vision for forgiveness and reconciliation (I can admit that I understand where she came from because many of us as black South Africans wanted retribution for all the atrocities that had been committed by the apartheid government). As a result of his conviction and commitment to his vision and also his principles (remember that the separation was finalised after the retractions of witness statements and the disappearing of witnesses after the Stompie trial) and in setting an example for the leader that he knew the country needed him to be - Tata Mandela did what many of us could not do - giving up the love of his heart for the love of his country and his fellow South Africans.

As South Africans, we are reminded of the sacrifices that he made.

We will always love you Tata Madiba!!!

by: Dr. Henry Lee from: South Carolina
December 06, 2013 12:20 PM
Expect Obama to use your hard-earned confiscated tax dollars to pay for an expensive trip to South Africa where he will attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

The chief teleprompter reader for the banks and corporations that control the government has already ordered flags be flown at half mast. This 17th century ritual is usually reserved for members of U.S. government officialdom, but Mandela is a special case.

Nelson Mandela stands atop a hallowed pedestal in the pantheon of political correctness. His struggle against the scourge of apartheid – government sanctified racism – was fashioned into a human rights struggle by the establishment and its propaganda media. The distorted image of Saint Mandela has been dutifully scrubbed of its dark side. There is no room for truth or historical fact as the tribute to Saint Mandela unfolds and will continue to do so well into next week and beyond.

Here’s what you won’t hear. Nelson Mandela was a terrorist. His Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the African National Congress, targeted civilians.

On May 20, 1983, Umkhonto we Sizwe (aka “Spear of the Nation”) set off a car bomb near the Nedbank Square building on Church Street in the South African capital of Pretoria. The bomb was timed to go off at the height of rush hour. The attack killed 19 people and wounded 217.
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