NELSON Mandela, who led South Africa out of apartheid and became the nation’s first black president, has died at the age of 95.

He passed away in the company of his family at around 8:50pm on December 5, South African President Jacob Zuma announced in a statement to the nation’s people.

“He is now rested, he is now at peace,” Mr Zuma said, as huge crowds grew outside the former leader’s home. ”Our nation has lost its greatest son, our people have lost a father.

“But though we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of the profound and enduring loss.

“Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish the profound and enduring loss.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family.”

The man credited with dismantling South Africa’s system of apartheid which institutionalised racism, Mandela was an international symbol of reconciliation and human rights.

WHY SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDREN LOVE MANDELA

AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE DEVOTED TO THE GREATER GOOD

A trained lawyer who rose to prominence as a leader of the African National Congress’s fight against the Afrikaaner regime, Mandela was imprisoned in 1962 for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government.

“Death is something inevitable.When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people&his country,he can rest in peace” #Madiba

— NelsonMandela (@NelsonMandela) December 5, 2013

Our cover when Nelson Mandela was freed pic.twitter.com/jsTdIimi9Z

— Newsweek (@Newsweek) December 5, 2013

He served 27 years, mostly in the isolated Robben Island prison for political inmates. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990.

At the end of his trial, Mandela gave a now iconic speech in which he said: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.

Nelson Mandela walks to freedom after more than two decades in prison with his then wife, Winnie 11 February 1990 pic.twitter.com/3rf9KCyp6X

— Steve Grzanich (@SteveGrzanich) December 5, 2013

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.

“It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

He served as South Africa’s president from 1994-99.

Prime Minister Bob Hawke welcomes Nelson Mandela to Australia, 1990.pic.twitter.com/tQWFJYT6Pn

— Canberra Insider (@CanberraInsider) December 5, 2013

Mandela was awarded the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and is held in deep respect within South Africa as the “Father of the Nation”

He was admitted to a hospital in Pretoria on June 8 to be treated for a recurrence of a lung infection. A nation has been on edge ever since as the former president fought to stay alive.

 

 Mandela with Clinton

Presidents — Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela inspect his prison grounds. Source: NewsComAu

South Africans took to the streets and chanted “Mandela, Mandela, there’s no one else like you”. President Zuma has ordered South Africa’s flags to be lowered at half mast. The great leader will receive a state funeral.

LEAVE YOUR TRIBUTE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW

Zuma said the nation’s citizens must take inspiration from Mandela’s struggle. ”It must be the moment of our greatest determination – a determination to live as Madiba has lived.

“To strive as he as strived. And to not rest until we have realised this vision of a truly united South Africa. A peaceful and prosperous Africa, and a better world.”

Mandela also worked with his Nelson Mandela Foundation to combat HIV/AIDS, amid his failing health.

 Mandela's prison band

Nelson Mandela’s prison bangle. Picture: Getty Images Source: NewsComAu

A WORLD MOURNS

Tributes are pouring in from world leaders.In a statement from the White House podium US President Barack Obama said he was one of the millions who was inspired to public service by Mandela.

“We’ve lost one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with,” said the country’s first African-American president.”

“He no longer belongs to us, he belongs to the ages.”

“We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived. A man who took history in his hands.

“May God bless his memory and keep him in peace.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott named Mandela as one of the greatest historical figures of the last century.

“Nelson Mandela was one of the great figures of Africa, arguably one of the great figures of the last century,” Mr Abbott told Fairfax Radio. ”A truly great man.”

“And while I never met him I did read that book A Long Walk To Freedom and I guess the impression we get of Nelson Mandela is someone who suffered but was not embittered but ennobled through that suffering.”

The world has lost a great man. As we grieve for Nelson Mandela we should also celebrate his tremendous victory over prejudice and hate. JG

— Julia Gillard (@JuliaGillard) December 5, 2013

A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time. I’ve asked for the flag at No10 to be flown at half mast.

— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) December 5, 2013

I will never forget my friend Madiba. pic.twitter.com/UX21ZZG7cg

— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) December 5, 2013

“Today we have lost a light in the world,” Clinton said. “Mandela was a true leader, a statesmen, and the defining symbol of reconciliation.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “No one did more in our time for the values and aspirations of the UN. I will never forget his selflessness and deep sense of purpose.”

Leave your tribute below. 

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