President Barack Obama issued a speech following Nelson Mandela death, in which he said the South African leader "belongs to the ages."
Mandela, the man who led the struggle against apartheid and then became South Africa’s first black president, died Thursday, Dec. 5, at the age of 95. The leader battled health issues, including a reoccurring lung infection that landed him in the hospital several times before his passing.
In the speech, which can be read in full on the Washington Post, President Obama said: “Today [Nelson Mandela’s] gone home and we've lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth,” the president said in a speech that can be read in full on the Washington Post.
“He no longer belongs to us; he belongs to the ages. Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, Madiba transformed South Africa and moved all of us. His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings and countries can change for the better.”
President Obama also spoke about how Mandela inspired him personally. “I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela's life. My very first political action -- the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics was a protest against apartheid,” he said. “I would study his words and his writings. The day he was released from prison it gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they're guided by their hopes and not by their fears.”
On Thursday, family members gathered at Mandela’s deathbed and the family home in Johannesburg, the Independent reported.
"He is now resting. He is now at peace," South African President Zuma said about Mandela via CNN. "Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father."
"What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human," the president continued in his address. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves."
A funeral for the apartheid icon will be held on Friday. Zuma reportedly ordered for all flags in the nation to be flown at half-staff during his state funeral.
Rest in peace, Nelson Mandela.