Nelson Mandela: Prisoner, Peacemaker and President Dies
JOHANNESBURG (AP) - His native land and the world are mourning the loss of South African leader Nelson Mandela. The country's first black president has died at 95 after a long illness.
Mandela, a former boxer, attorney and freedom fighter, spent nearly one-third of his life as a political prisoner of apartheid, the legalized racist system of oppression controlled by South Africa's white minority. Amazingly he emerged advocating forgiveness, even acceptance of the minority Afrikaans culture to form a democratic non-racial government.
His transformation from freedom fighter to statesman caused admirers to compare Mandela to Martin Luther King Jr. and Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi.
South Africa's current leader, President Jacob Zuma, announced Mandela's death during a TV broadcast Thursday night. Zuma said the nation had lost its greatest son and that the people had lost a father. Zuma said Mandela died "peacefully" while with his family.
South Africans are reacting to the death of Mandela with deep sadness at the loss of a man considered by many to be the father of the nation.
Mourners also say it is a time to celebrate the achievements of the iconic former South African president and anti-apartheid leader.
One Johannesburg resident, 31-year-old Hamsa Moosa, said after the 95-year-old Mandela died Thursday night that he "wouldn't be free" if not for the man affectionately known by his clan name "Madiba."
A 29-year-old accountant, Thumelo Madikwe, says Mandela played his role in the world "very well" and that he lived a long life.