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    South Africans Mourn Mandela's Death, Funeral Plans Announced



    South Africans are mourning anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95 after a long illness.

    Mr. Mandela spent 27 years in prison for his role fighting to end white minority rule and official discrimination against blacks in South Africa.

    After his release, he became a symbol of peace and reconciliation and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. The following year, he became South Africa's first black president.

    President Jacob Zuma said Friday that the nation will hold a series of memorials leading up to Mr. Mandela's burial in his hometown of Qunu on December 15.

    The White House says President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will travel to South Africa next week to pay their respects to Mr. Mandela.



    Many South African's call Mr. Mandela by an affectionate nickname "Madiba." On Thursday, President Zuma said Madiba's death means South Africa had "lost its greatest son and our people have lost a father."

    "That is indeed the moment of our deepest sorrow. Yet it must also be the moment of our greatest determination. A determination to live as Madiba has lived, to strive as Madiba has strived and to not rest until we have realized his vision of a truly united South Africa, a peaceful and prosperous Africa, and a better world."



    Crowds quickly gathered Friday outside his home in Johannesburg, where people sang, danced, and paid their respects in the South African tradition.



    Scores of world leaders and celebrities are expected to travel to South Africa to attend the services for Mr. Mandela. Every living U.S. president is expected to attend Mr. Mandela's funeral, health permitting.

    President Obama says he is one of countless millions who have been inspired by the South African leader's "moral courage, kindness and humility." Flags in the U.S. will fly half-staff through December 9 to honor Mr. Mandela.

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