6 December 2013

Africa Mourns Mandela

That was South African President Jacob Zuma. African leaders meeting in Paris for a summit Friday are holding a moment of silence to mark the passing ... ( Resource: African Leaders Hold Moment Of Silence For Mandela

Nelson Mandela may have been a global figure with a global message - the key to freedom is perseverance tempered by tolerance - but Africans resolutely claim him as one of their own.

Many South Africans heard the news of Nelson Mandela's death upon waking on Friday and they flocked to his home in Johannesburg's leafy Houghton neighborhood.

In a church service in Cape Town, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said Mandela, the imprisoned anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa's first black president, would want South Africans themselves to be his "memorial" by adhering to the values of unity and democracy he embodied. "He taught us how to come together and believe in ourselves."

Mandela's prison mate Tokyo Sexwale said "the grief we see today, the tears that are flowing, the emotions that have welled up, will all subside. It is for us to prove to the world we are worthy of his legacy."

45-year-old Durban physiotherapist Mrs Sandy Moodley told DW she was going to miss Mandela a lot even though she didn't know him personally. "I hold a soft spot for him because my son was born in 1994, a few days after the first democratic elections. They say you need to be born an original to die an orginal, there's nobody who can copy him," she said.

South African President Jacob Zuma announced on Friday that Nelson Mandela's funeral will take place at his rural childhood home. "He will be laid to rest on the 15th of December in Qunu in the Eastern Cape province," he said.

'Mandela is a world citizen'

In Zimbabwe, former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai said "what is significant is that after so many years of incarceration he did not come out a bitter man." Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years.

In Tanzania, Foreign Minister Bernard Membe told DW his country was shocked by the news.

"He has left behind many lessons. He was a leader who never had thoughts of revenge and a resilient leader. He loved his country, a true patriot who was ready to fight for his people and that's why the world is so saddened by his demise."

Nelson Mandela on the eve of his 94th birthday at his residence in Qunu, South Africa

In Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, President Goodluck Jonathan said Mandela's death "will create a huge vacuum that will be difficult to fill in our continent."

One resident of Abuja, Hajia Sani, told DW "Nigeria and indeed Africa has lost a gem, a father figure, a leader of repute."

Nigerian journalist Tony Ekata said "Mandela can never really be gone forever in the true sense of the word. Physically he may be gone, but his legacy will definitely, definitely, live forever, because Mandela is a world citizen."

Paris summit seen as tribute

The death of Nelson Mandela weighed heavily on some 40 African leaders as they gathered in Paris on Friday for a summit on security and French military intervention in the Central African Republic. French President Francois Hollande joined them in observing a minute's silence in memory of the anti-apartheid icon.

Speaking in the French capital, President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger said he was saddened by the news of Mandela's death. "President Mandela should be a model for us all."

The president of Congo-Brazzaville, Denis Sassou Nguesso, said the summit "would be a form of tribute to Mandela, who spent his life fighting for the freedom of African people and for peace."

South Africans are pondering Mandela's legacy and remembering key moments in his life

Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta said "We have the responsibility of living by the ideals that he stood for. His life story teaches the great lesson of the power of will in turning adversity into victory."

In Rwanda, the New Times printed a tribute to Mandela written by President Paul Kagame. Kagame said Mandela was above all a politician, but to point that out did not diminish his remarkable legacy. He recalled a passage from Mandela's "Conversations with Myself," published in 2010. Mandela had written "One issue that deeply worried me in prison was the false image that I unwittingly projected to the outside world: of being regarded as a saint."

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