Mandela death: Bono, Freeman, Winfrey and Ali tributes

Bono with Nelson Mandela in 2002. Picture: AP
Bono with Nelson Mandela in 2002. Picture: AP
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U2 frontman Bono, award-winning actor Morgan Freeman, chat show queen Oprah Winfrey and iconic boxer Mohammed Ali have been among the celebrities paying tribute to Mandela since his passing.

Soul legend Aretha Franklin, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, singer-songwriter Paul Simon and actress Charlize Theron also spoke of the influence the former South African president had had over them and the world.

Picture: AP

Picture: AP

Weinstein had been among those in the audience when news broke of Mandela’s death at the Royal Premiere of new biopic Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom in London last night, which the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended. His death was announced to the stunned audience after the film had been shown.

Speaking after the screening, Prince William said: “We were just reminded of what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was.”

Weinstein said: “We count ourselves unspeakably fortunate to have been immersed in Nelson Mandela’s story and legacy.

“It’s been an honour to have been granted such proximity to a man who will go down as one of history’s great freedom fighters and advocates for justice.

Picture: AP

Picture: AP

“I’ve had the privilege of spending time with him and I can say his sense of humour was as great as his optimism.”

Idris Elba, the star of the film, who previously appeared in The Wire, said: “What an honour it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. I am stunned at this very moment.”

Oscar-winner Freeman, who also played Mandela on screen, in the film Invictus, described him as “one of the true giants of the past century.”

He said: “Nelson Mandela was a man of incomparable honour, unconquerable strength, and unyielding resolve - a saint to many, a hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind.

“As we remember his triumphs, let us, in his memory, not just reflect on how far we’ve come, but on how far we have to go.”

Fellow Oscar winner Charlize Theron said: “My thoughts and love go out to the Mandela family. You will be missed but your impact on this world will live forever.

“There will never be words to say what I’m feeling right now. I am saddened to the depths of my soul.”

Bono said: “Mandela should be remembered as a remarkable man for just for what happened - and what didn’t happen - in South Africa’s transition.

“But more than anyone, it was he who rebooted the idea of Africa from a continent in chaos to a much more romantic view, one in keeping with the majesty of the landscape and the nobility of even its poorer inhabitants.

“To him, principles and pragmatism were not foes, they went hand in hand. He was an idealist without naivete, a compromiser without being compromised.”

Former world heavyweight champion Ali said: “What I will remember about Mandela is that he was a man whose heart, soul and spirit could not be contained or restrained by racial and economic injustices, metal bars or the burden of hate and revenge.”

Legendary American singer Franklin said: “What a sad day that such a great man has passed on and moved up a little higher.

“Most extraordinary was how he rose above his being imprisoned and exalted himself above apartheid and hatred to unite the country, an unbelievable example of humanitarianism and courage.”

Simon, famously used South African musicians for his groundbreaking album Gracelands, breaking the cultural boycott of the country, but raising worldwide exposure for its music.

He said: “Mandela was one of the great leaders and teachers of the 20th century.

“He conceived a model for mortal enemies to overcome their hatred and find a way through compassion to rebuild a nation based on truth, justice and the power of forgiveness. His passing should reignite a worldwide effort for peace.”

Winfrey said: “One of the great honours of my life was to be invited to Nelson Mandela’s home, spend private time and get to know him.

“He was everything you’ve ever heard and more - humble and unscathed by bitterness. And he always loved to tell a good joke.

“Being in his presence was like sitting with grace and majesty at the same time. He will always be my hero. His life was a gift to us all.”


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