World News

World Leaders Remember Nelson Mandela

U.S. President Barack Obama has called the widow of Nelson Mandela to express his condolences.

President Obama spoke with Graca Machel Friday to tell her of the profound influence Mr. Mandela had on his life.

He also thanked Mrs. Machel for the joy she brought to her late husband's life and the commitment to a peaceful, fair and loving world that she and President Mandela shared.

Earlier at the White House, a solemn President Obama called Mr. Mandela an influential, courageous, and profoundly good human being.

"I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela's life. My very first political action, the first thing I ever did that involved an issue, or a policy, or politics, was a protest against apartheid. I would study his words and his writings. The day he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they're guided by their hopes and not by their fears."

Mr. Obama said flags at the White House and other public buildings will fly at half staff through Monday, in a rare gesture toward a foreign leader.

F.W. de Klerk, South Africa's last apartheid leader, said Mr. Mandela's greatest legacy is his emphasis on reconciliation. De Klerk won a Nobel Peace Prize alongside Mr. Mandela, whom he freed from prison in 1990. He said their relationship was "often stormy," but that they were "always able to come together at critical moments."

Many African leaders, who were in Paris for a security summit Friday, vowed to live up to the example Mr. Mandela set.

South African Archbishop and anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu called his friend a "precious diamond" who emerged from prison "virtually flawless." Tutu said instead of "calling for his pound of flesh, he proclaimed the message of forgiveness and reconciliation."

Ex-U.N. chief Kofi Annan, who along with Tutu and Mr. Mandela formed a group of statesmen known as The Elders, said South Africa was fortunate to have a leader that inspired forgiveness so that the country "did not go up in flames."

Fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi paid tribute to Mr. Mandela as a "great human being who raised the standard of humanity."

"He made us all understand that nobody should be penalized for the color of his skin, for the circumstances into which he is born. He also made us understand that we can change the world. We can change the world by changing attitudes, by changing perceptions."

The Dalai Lama, another Nobel Peace laureate, said he will "personally miss a dear friend" he had hoped to meet again. He said that although Mr. Mandela has physically departed, his "spirit will go on"

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Mr. Mandela "a giant among men," and compared him to India's own icon of freedom and reconciliation, Mahatma Gandhi.

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on people to be inspired by Mr. Mandela to keep working for a better and more just world.

"Nelson Mandela showed what is possible for our world and within each one of us - if we believe, dream and work together for justice and humanity. His moral force was decisive in dismantling the system of apartheid."

Former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush also praised Mr. Mandela as a champion of freedom, human dignity, and equality.

Another ex-U.S. president, George H. W. Bush, called Mr. Mandela, "a man of tremendous moral courage, who changed the course of history in his country."

British Prime Minister David Cameron emerged from 10 Downing Street to call Mr. Mandela a true global hero, saying a great light has gone out in the world.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called him a man of vision who rejected violence and was one of "the most honorable figures of our time."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, hailed Mr. Mandela as a "symbol of freedom from colonialism and occupation," calling his death "a great loss."

Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed "deep grief" at the death of what he called a "world-renowned statesman." He said Mr. Mandela, who visited China twice, will always be remembered for his contributions to China-South African ties "and the cause of human progress."

Haitian President Michel Martelly said Mr. Mandela remains a "symbol of democracy" whose courage and "faith in the true struggle for equality" continue to guide mankind.

Pope Francis also expressed condolences, and said he prays that Mr. Mandela's example will inspire generations of South Africans.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs