Nelson Mandela: 1918-2013Thursday, December 05, 2013 by: Donna Hopper
South African President Jacob Zuma announced today that iconic political leader and visionary anti-aparthied activist, Nelson Mandela, died today at his home in Johannesburg surrounded by loved ones.
"Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father," President Zuma stated.
As one of the most recognizable human rights advocates of our time, Mandela was sentenced to life in prison in 1964 for conspiring to depose the apartheid regime that ruled South Africa at the time.
During his trial, Mandela stated: "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 need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."
During his 27-year incarceration, Mandela earned a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of London.
As an international symbol of resistance, a global campaign, supported by such institutions as the World Peace Council and the United Nations, was launched demanding he be released.
At 71 years of age, Mandela's release was announced after years of negotiations on February 11, 1990.
At the time of is release, black South Africans were not permitted to vote.
On May 10, 1994, Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa's first black president.
He never sought a second term and retired from political life in 1999, the same year the Nelson Mandela Foundation formed which aimed to combat HIV/AIDS, and advocate rural education development.
Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, and is a member of the Order of Canada.
In 2001, he became the first living person to be made an honorary Canadian citizen by then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, based on Mandela's 1994 autobiography, premiered during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and was publicly released less than a week prior to his death.
Mandela was 95 years old.
"He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages," said U.S. President Barack Obama in a statement to media today. "His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings and countries can change for the better. His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to."
Statements from the Governor General of Canada His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper follow.
Message from the Governor General of Canada following the Death of Nelson Mandela
OTTAWA - When history speaks of the very best examples of humanity, we will speak of Nelson Mandela.
His life was dedicated to the greater good.
He held strong beliefs and did not give up on his dreams.
He was a driving force for change and cared for the well-being of others.
We have all learned so much from his fortitude, dedication and compassion.
Throughout his life, he overcame many hardships to become a powerful global figure for peace and equality; the legacy he leaves cannot be understated.
All across our nation, we hold him in the highest regard, evidenced by his investment into the Order of Canada as an Honorary Companion and an honorary citizen of our country.
On behalf of all Canadians, Sharon and I would like to send our deepest condolences to Mr. Mandela’s family, and to all South Africans.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued the following statement upon the death of Nelson Mandela, former president of the Republic of South Africa:
With the death of Nelson Mandela, the world has lost one of its great moral leaders and statesmen.
Mr. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years by the former Government of South Africa, for his part in the struggle that would ultimately end the system of apartheid.
Despite his long years of captivity, Mr. Mandela left prison with a heart closed to calls for a settling of scores. Instead, he was filled by a longing for truth and reconciliation, and for an understanding between all peoples.
He demonstrated that the only path forward for the nation was to reject the appeal of bitterness.
His forbearance was legendary: his magnanimity spared all South Africans incalculable suffering.
Nelson Mandela’s enduring legacy for his country, and the world, is the example he set through his own ‘long walk to freedom.’ With grace and humility, he modelled how peoples can transform their own times and in doing so, their own lives.
On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, Laureen and I extend our condolences to Mr. Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel, his entire family and all citizens of South Africa.
Canada, a nation that granted Mr. Mandela honorary citizenship in 2001, mourns with you and the entire world today.