Africa Mourns: Rest In Peace Nelson Mandela

Africa Mourns: Rest In Peace Nelson Mandela

There have been many false rumors of his death, the media camping at his deathbed like vultures waiting for news of his demise, but finally Nelson Mandela, African’s most iconic person, died last night under his own terms.

Mandela, South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero, bowed out aged 95 at his Johannesburg home after a prolonged lung infection, plunging his nation, Africa and the world into mourning for a man relished as a global moral giant in the same light as Martin Luther King Junior in the U.S. and Mahatma Gandhi in India.

After spending 27 year locked up in apartheid-era jails, including the Robben Island penal colony, Mandela was released in 1990 and was elected as the first black president of Africa’s largest economy, only to rule for one term and step down.

Rising from a humble rural background, his fight against the white minority apartheid government through an armed resistance in 1960 saw him labeled a “terrorist.” He was arrested and jailed.

On his release nearly three decades later Mandela was quick to preach reconciliation and forgiveness when it dawned on him the country’s white minority had begun to soften its grip on power.

In 1993, Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, an honor he shared with F.W. de Klerk, the white Afrikaner leader who freed him from prison three years earlier and negotiated the end of apartheid.

The announcement of his death came from President Jacob Zuma late on Thursday. It triggered an avalanche of tributes.

“The legend is gone,” Sindisa Makana, 21, an attendant at a 24-hour gas station in Cape Town told Reuters.

Social media buzzed with tributes and links to other mainstream media tributes and stories that sought to eulogize the fallen hero.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the world had lost “one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth.”

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said the death “will create a huge vacuum that will be difficult to fill in our continent.”

In South Africa, fears by a few that the passing of Mandela might lead again to a return of the racial and political tensions that racked South Africa during the apartheid era had to be watered down by government officials.

“To suggest that South Africa might go up in flames – as some have predicted – is to discredit South Africans and Madiba’s (Mandela’s clan name) legacy,” said Desmond Tutu, former Archbishop of Cape Town and a veteran anti-apartheid leader, according to Reuters.