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Nelson Mandela dies peacefully in his home in South Africa today

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Today shortly after 5 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, the world learned of the death of icon and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, an innocent man who spent 27 years of his life in prison for his political beliefs and lived to overcome the injustice and oppression to become the greatest African leader in history. Mandela died peacefully at home with his family surrounding his bedside. He was 95 years old. The entire world mourns his death.

President Barack Obama called Nelson Mandela his hero. Obama said that Mandela was a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice. Obama made a trip to South Africa during the summer of 2013 to pay his respect to Mandela and to comfort his family.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray today expressed condolences and praised the historic achievements of former South African President Nelson Mandela upon learning of his passing at the age of 95. South African President Jacob Zuma announced Mandela’s death, according to multiple news outlets, late in the evening local time on December 5.

“Mr. Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically elected president in 1994, after serving 27 years as a political prisoner. An attorney by profession, President Mandela is remembered for his long struggle to end the South African system of segregation known as apartheid and the government repression that attended it. The Nobel Peace Prize recipient leaves behind a resilient legacy and a reputation for uncompromising dedication to freedom, democracy and multiculturalism,” Gray said.

Mandela taught the people of South Africa to live in peace and harmony after the racial separation laws of South Africa were repealed and blacks came into power. He amazed the world by his refusal to hate or seek revenge for the wrongs done to him and his people. Mandela even asked the staff of the former repressive regime to stay in his administration after he became president. He transformed racists and taught them how to work together for the good of the nation.

Zuma released the following statement on the death of Nelson Mandela:

“Our beloved Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding President of our democratic nation has departed. He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 20h50 on the 5th of December 2013. He is now resting. He is now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss.

His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world.His humility, his compassion, and his humanity earned him their love. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family. To them we owe a debt of gratitude. They have sacrificed much and endured much so that our people could be free. Our thoughts are with his wife Mrs Graca Machel, his former wife Ms Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, with h Zumais children, his grand-children, his great grand-children and the entire family. Our thoughts are with his friends, comrades and colleagues who fought alongside Madiba over the course of a lifetime of struggle.

Our thoughts are with the South African people who today mourn the loss of the one person who, more than any other, came to embody their sense of a common nationhood. Our thoughts are with the millions of people across the world who embraced Madiba as their own, and who saw his cause as their cause. This is the moment of our deepest sorrow. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Yet, what made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves. And in him we saw so much of ourselves.

Nelson Mandela brought us together, and it is together that we will bid him farewell.Our beloved Madiba will be accorded a State Funeral.I have ordered that all flags of the Republic of South Africa be lowered to half-mast from tomorrow, 6 December, and to remain at half-mast until after the funeral.As we gather to pay our last respects, let us conduct ourselves with the dignity and respect that Madiba personified. Let us be mindful of his wishes and the wishes of his family.

As we gather, wherever we are in the country and wherever we are in the world, let us recall the values for which Madiba fought. Let us reaffirm his vision of a society in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another. Let us commit ourselves to strive together – sparing neither strength nor courage – to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

Let us express, each in our own way, the deep gratitude we feel for a life spent in service of the people of this country and in the cause of humanity. This 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 realised his vision of a truly united South Africa, a peaceful and prosperous Africa, and a better world.

We will always love you Madiba! May your soul rest in peace," Zuma said.

Examiner.com will provide information on the state funeral and the worldwide tributes to his life in the days ahead.

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