Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa’s first black president after spending 27 years in prison, died last night. He was 95.
His death was announced by South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, who told the nation in a televised address: “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.”
Tributes poured in from around the world last night after news of his death was broken just before 10pm.
Mr Zuma said Mr Mandela would receive a full state funeral, and flags would be flown at half-mast. It is understood Mr Mandela’s body will be moved to a mortuary in Pretoria, and that the funeral is likely to take place next Saturday.
“What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human,” Mr Zuma said. “We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.
“We will always love you Madiba. May your soul rest in peace. God bless Africa.”
Mr Mandela had been receiving intensive nursing care at home for a lung infection after spending three months in hospital.
Born in the Eastern Cape in 1918, Mr Mandela began his political career by joining the African National Congress (ANC) in 1943.
He soon became a high-profile, controversial figure who was arrested and charged with various offences including high treason until he was finally sentenced to life imprisonment for sabotage.
Nobel Peace laureate Mr Mandela led South Africa’s transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s, after spending almost three decades in prison. He was freed in 1990 to world acclaim and went on to become a figure of world reconciliation and peace. The ANC issued a statement last night which read: “South Africa has lost a colossus, an epitome of humility, equality, justice, peace and hope of millions.”
First Minister Alex Salmond paid tribute and said Glasgow had been the first city in the world to grant him its freedom while he was still in prison.
“With the passing of Nelson Mandela, the world has lost a towering statesman and the outstanding political leader of his generation,” the First Minister said.
“Mr Mandela’s integrity, humanity and compassion were an inspiration to countless millions around the globe, and his influence transcended ideology, race and creed.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a towering figure in our time; a legend in life and now in death – a true global hero.
“Across the country he loved they will be mourning a man who was the embodiment of grace.
The UN Security Council interrupted a meeting on the tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and stood for a minute in silent tribute to Mr Mandela.
US president Barack Obama said the world has lost an influential, courageous and “profoundly good” man.
Mr Obama said Mandela “no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages.”
Speaking from the White House, Mr Obama said he was one of the countless millions around the world who was influenced by Mr Mandela.
“Madiba transformed South Africa and moved all of us,” he said. “His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings and countries can change for the better.
“His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example all humanity should aspire to, whether in the lives of nations all our own personal ones.
“He achieved more than can be expected of any one man.”
American civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said Mr Mandela’s “imprint” would be “everlasting”.
“My heart weighs heavy,” he said, and added: “Nelson Mandela was a transformational figure; to say he was a ‘historical figure’ would not give him his full due.
“Nelson Mandela was a giant of immense and unwavering intellect courage and moral authority. He chose reconciliation over retaliation. He changed the course of history.”
Former US president George W Bush said: “President Mandela was one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our time.
“He bore his burdens with dignity and grace, and our world is better off because of his example.
“This good man will be missed, but his contributions will live on forever. Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathy to President Mandela’s family and to the citizens of the nation he loved.”
The Rt Rev Lorna Hood, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, described Mr Mandela as “a towering figure of the 20th century whose strength, courage and determination are only matched by his grace and ability to
“He will forever be remembered not only for the end of apartheid in South Africa but the manner in which the change was accomplished.”