Obama, First Lady To Travel To South Africa For Mandela Memorial Events
NBCNEWS.COM - World leaders, politicians, celebrities and public figures all across
the globe mourned the passing of Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid
activist and South Africa's first black president, who died Thursday at home at the age of 95.
will have a state burial on Dec. 15 in his hometown of Qunu, South
African President Jacob Zuma announced Friday. Dec. 8 has been declared
as a national day of prayer and reflection.
The White House
announced Friday that President Obama and the First Lady will go to
South Africa next week to pay their respects to Mandela and to
participate in memorial events.
Statements on his passing poured in from around the world, with Obama
saying he was one of the countless millions of people who drew
inspiration from Mandela's life and his "fierce dignity."
achieved more than could be expected of any man," Obama said, visibly
emotional. "Madiba transformed South Africa and moved all of us," he
added, referring to Mandela by his affectionately used clan name.
Zuma first announced Mandela's death, saying, "He is now resting. He is now at peace."
He added, "Our nation has lost his greatest son. Our people have lost their father."
Pope Francis on Friday sent a telegram of condolences to Zuma, paying
tribute to Mandela's legacy of "promoting the human dignity of all the
nation's citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm
foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth."
Mandela's longtime friend and the first black Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, also paid tribute at a church service.
we want to set up a memorial for him?" he asked the congregation. "I
think he wouldn't want something in stone. Ultimately he would want us,
South Africans to be his memorial."
"Thank you for what he has enabled us to know what we can become," he added. "Help us to become that kind of nation."
Newspapers across the world splashed the news and photos of Mandela
across their front pages, dubbing him "Tata" -- or "father" -- in South
Africa, "icon of icons" in Ireland, a "colossus" in Britain and a "hero"
In the United States, former presidents from Nobel
Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter to Geoge W. Bush paid tribute. President
George H. W. Bush said in a statement that the revered South African
icon "was a man of tremendous moral courage, who changed the course of
history in his country."
His son, President George W. Bush, said
Mandela was "one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our
time," who "bore his burdens with dignity and grace, and our world is
better off because of his example."
Carter echoed those feelings
in a statement: "His passion for freedom and justice created new hope
for generations of oppressed people worldwide."
"I will never
forget my friend Madiba," former President Bill Clinton tweeted, while
Secretary of State John Kerry said Mandela "will be remembered as a
pioneer for peace."
"Mandela's strength as a teacher is that he not only advised us what
to do, he showed us how," former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was
held under house arrest for 15 years, said she was grieving for a man
who stood for human rights and equality.
"He made us all
understand that nobody should be penalized for the color of their skin
or for the circumstances in which he is born," she said. "He also made
us understand we can change the world by changing attitudes, by changing
Chinese President Xi Jinping also lauded Mandela as
"a world-renowned statesman," state news agency Xinhua said. He added
that the Chinese people will always remember Mandela's extraordinary
contributions to, "the cause of human progress."
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, who witnessed the former British colony
transform into a democracy after decades of violence under apartheid
rule, said she was "deeply saddened" by Nelson Mandela's death. She
added that he "worked tirelessly for the good of his country, and his
legacy is the peaceful South Africa we see today."
Upon leaving the premiere for the movie "Mandela: Long Walk To
Freedom" that he attended with his wife Duchess Kate in London, the
queen's grandson Prince William said the news of Mandela's death was
"extremely sad and tragic."
"We're just reminded what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was," he said.
Actor Idris Elba, who portrayed Mandela in that movie, said he was
stunned by the news. "We have lost one of the greatest human beings to
have walked this earth, I only feel honored to be associated with him,"
Chancellor Angela Merkel said his name was "always associated with the
fight against the oppression of his people and with overcoming the
apartheid regime. Not even years in prison could break Nelson Mandela or
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he
was saddened by the passing of the former president, whom he described
as "a man of quiet dignity and towering achievement, a giant for justice
and a down-to-earth human inspiration."
Bill and Melinda Gates, whose foundation works to fight poverty and
AIDS in developing countries including South Africa, also said it had
been "an honor" to meet Mandela and that they had "left each visit
inspired and more optimistic about the opportunity to improve the lives
of the poor throughout the world."
"From prisoner to president,
Nelson Mandela was tireless in his pursuit of Equality and justice for
all people," they said in a statement.
"His was a spirit born free, destined to soar above the rainbows.
Today his spirit is soaring through the heavens," boxing legend Muhammad
Ali said in a statement. He was famously pictured throwing punches with
the leader in a mock fight.
"Nelson Mandela showed us how to love
rather than hate, not because he had never surrendered to rage or
violence, but because he learned that love would do a better job," Irish
musician Bono said.
"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," said actor Morgan Freeman, who portrayed Mandela in the movie
"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," musician Paul Simon
Oprah Winfrey said she was honored to have had the chance to meet
Mandela. "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," Winfrey said in a statement.
Human rights advocate Martin
Luther King III said, "Through his and his people's long walk to
freedom, Mr. Mandela's constant fight for equality personified, what my
father often said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice
An emotional scene emerged outside of Mandela's house, where a
multi-racial crowd gathered late into the night, singing liberation
songs, chanting and waving flags.
Johannesburg resident Hamsa Moosa, 31, told The Associated Press he "wouldn't be free" if not for Mandela.
feel relieved on his soul that finally he is able to rest, finally he
is able to be in a peaceful situation," Ouma Mpela of Cape Town, said.
Thirty-two-year-old Johannesburg resident Salmon Matlou said, "I
don't know what's going to happen but I'm scared because we like him so
much and now he's gone."
"It feels like it's my father who has
died. He was such a good man, who had good values the nation could look
up to. He was a role model unlike our leaders of today," said Annah
Khokhozela, 37, a nanny, speaking in Johannesburg.
National Congress, the country's governing political party, said in a
statement: "Our nation has lost a colossus, an epitome of humility,
equality, justice, peace and the hope of millions; here and abroad."
spent 27 years in prison and led his country to democracy. Though he
was in power for only five years as his country's first black president,
his moral influence earned him the praise and respect of people all
over the world.
"His journey from a prisoner to a president
embodied the promise that human beings and countries can change for the
better," Obama said.
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