Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, has died after battling a long illness. He was 95 years old.
Mandela was revered by many after he rose up from prisoner to leader in a country torn apart by apartheid. Following 27 years of imprisonment, he became South Africa’s first black president and quickly proved that his interests were not driven by the usual political standards, but by the grace and dignity with which he treated his fellow man.
“People tend to measure themselves by external accomplishments, but jail allows a person to focus on internal ones; such as honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, generosity and an absence of variety,” Mandela once said. “You learn to look into yourself.”
South African President Jacob Zuma released a statement on the loss of Mandela, saying, “He is now resting. He is now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.”
Mandela had been ill for some time and battled a stubborn lung infection as far back as this summer, when he was in critical condition and was placed on renal dialysis. The news scared his supporters, who visited the hospital day and night and left gifts and flowers outside.
President Zuma has said that Mandela became the standard to which the nation’s young people looked.
“He was a father figure, elder statesman and global ambassador,” Johnson said. “He was the guarantee, almost like an insurance policy, that South Africa’s young democracy and its leaders will pursue the nation’s best interests.”
Image: Wikimedia Commons