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Nelson Mandela: tributes and reaction to his death – live updates

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Nelson Mandela: tributes and reaction to his death – live updates” was written by Matthew Weaver, for theguardian.com on Friday 6th December 2013 14.17 UTC

2.17pm GMT

Funeral arrangements

Here’s the full text of Zuma’s statement setting out the funeral arrangements.

Compatriots and friends around the world,

We meet on the second day of the passing of our beloved founding President of a free and democratic South Africa, His Excellency Nelson Mandela.

We sincerely thank all South Africans for the dignified manner in which they have responded to the monumental loss of this international icon who was a symbol of reconciliation, unity, love, human rights and justice in our country and the world.

We thank the Heads of State and Government, international organisations and eminent persons around the world who continue to send messages of condolence and support to the family and all South Africans.

We announced yesterday that the Former President will be accorded a State Funeral. He will be laid to rest on the 15th of December, in Qunu in the Eastern Cape province.

We should all work together to organise the most befitting funeral for this outstanding son of our country and the father of our young nation.

We have declared Sunday, 8th December as a national day of prayer and reflection.

We call upon all our people to gather in halls, churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and in their homes for prayer services and meditation, reflecting on the life of Madiba and his contribution to our country and the world.

The main activities of the national week of mourning are as follows;

The official memorial service will be held on the 10th of December at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.

From the 11th to the 13th of December, the remains of our beloved Madiba will lie in state at the seat of government, the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where he served as the first President of this young democracy. During these days, official memorial services will also be held in all provinces and regions.

Once again we thank all South Africans for the dignity, respect and the support that has been provided to the Mandela family, from the period of Madiba’s illness to his eventual passing.

The outpouring of love that we experienced locally and abroad was unprecedented.

It demonstrates the calibre of leader that was Madiba.

We will always love Madiba for teaching us that it is possible to overcome hatred and anger in order to build a new nation and a new society.

We will spend the week mourning his passing.

We will also spend it celebrating a life well lived, a life that we must all emulate for the betterment of our country and Africa.

Long live Madiba!

2.14pm GMT

Bill Gates

Microsoft founder Bill Gates said Mandela played a key role in fighting the stigma against HIV/Aids.

In a blogpost Gates recalls Mandela posing for a photograph with infant victims.

You can see the power of his example in one of my favorite photographs ever. My dad went to visit him in South Africa along with President Jimmy Carter. President Mandela took them to a clinic that cared for infants born with HIV. As reporters and photographers looked on, he picked up one of the babies and held it in his arms. President Carter and my dad did the same. The next day, the image of all three men cradling HIV-positive babies was broadcast throughout South Africa.

It sent a powerful message: that people did not need to be afraid of touching a person with HIV.

It was just one small step, and we still have a long way to go in the fight against AIDS. But Nelson Mandela played a crucial role in the progress we have made so far. I will never forget the example that he set.

Sarah Boseley has more on how Mandela changed the Aids agenda in South Africa.

2.07pm GMT

Daniel Howden records more sights and sounds of the celebrations of Mandela’s life outside his home.

1.54pm GMT

Hamid Karzai

Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai, recorded this tribute:

Nelson Mandela has passed away, an icon of our time, for man’s dignity, equality and freedom, a selfless human being, who struggled not only for the black South Africans against Apartheid, but for the dignity of all of us. History will throw a very kind light on him. Mandela deserves it.

Updated at 2.07pm GMT

1.45pm GMT

Daniel Howden recorded this clip of singing outside Mandela’s home in Houghton

1.40pm GMT

Mandela’s home

Cars are parked up for more than five blocks around Nelson Mandela’s home in the plush suburb of Houghton, writes Daniel Howden.

An ANC truck sits blocking the main junction with a giant, beaming Jacob Zuma emblazoned on the side.

Many families have come to pay respects but one of the neighbours is having a children’s party across the street and guests are wading through onlookers, complaining at the inconvenience.

Updated at 1.40pm GMT

1.35pm GMT

The memorial service will take place on 10 December at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg – the site of the 2010 World Cup final.

From the 11 – 13 December Mandela’s body will lie instate at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Zuma said.

Official memorial services will also be held all over the country during this period, he said.

Zuma said the outpouring of love in South Africa and across the world has been “unprecedented”.

He added: “It demonstrates the calibre of the leader that Madiba was.”

Zuma ended his announcement by saying: “love live Madiba”.

Updated at 1.48pm GMT

1.29pm GMT

Zuma said: “We should all work together to organise the most befitting funeral for this outstanding son of our country and the father of our nation.”

We have declared Sunday the 8th of December as a national day of prayer and reflection. We call upon all our people to help in halls, in churches, in mosques, in temples, in synagogues to hold prayer services and mediation reflecting on the life of Madiba and his contribution to our country and the world.”

1.22pm GMT

Zuma announces funeral date

Zuma has confirmed that the funeral will be held in 15 December in Qunu. A memorial service will be held in 10 December in the national stadium.

1.16pm GMT

Funeral date

The funeral will be held on Sunday 15 December, according to South African broadcaster eNCA.

1.07pm GMT

First TV interview

ITV has footage of Mandela’s first TV interview.

The interview was recorded at a time when a show of force by the South African government tested Mandela’s non-violent strategy.

At one point in the interview he said:

This show of force throughout the country, notwithstanding our clear declaration that this campaign is being run on peaceful and nonviolent lines, closes a chapter as far as out methods of political struggle are concerned.

There are many people who feel that it is useless and futile for us to continue talking peace and nonviolence against a government whose reply is only savage attacks on an unarmed and defenceless people.

I think the time has come for us to consider, in the light of our experiences in this stay at home, whether the methods which we have applied so far are adequate.

Mandela was never a revolutionary, according to the Guardian’s Gary Younge, who writes:

While other freedom fighters on the continent were embracing socialism and pan-Africanism, Mandela at his trial praised the country’s former colonial power. “I have great respect for British institutions and for [Britain’s] system of justice. I regard the British parliament as the most democratic in the world.”

But he was always a radical. Comfortable with communists, he could have left jail a lot sooner if he had been prepared to ditch his comrades in the name of pragmatism. More recently he was forthright in his condemnation of the Iraq war, insisting that the attitude of the US was “a threat to world peace”.

Updated at 1.12pm GMT

12.49pm GMT

Zuma is due to announce the funeral arrangements in 15 minutes or so, according to the South Africa Press Association.

12.45pm GMT

At Westminster MPs will get a chance to pay tribute to Mandela in a special debate being scheduled for Monday, writes Andrew Sparrow.

David Cameron and Ed Miliband will lead the tributes, and there will a parallel session in the House of Lords, opened by the leader of the Lords, Lord Hill.

There are also plans to hold an event in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster and the venue for Mandela’s address to both Houses of Parliament in 1993. The exact details have yet to be confirmed, but Peter Hain, the South African-born former Labour cabinet minister who was a leading anti-apartheid campaigner before he became an MP, said it would provide an opportunity “for civil society, for the anti-Apartheid diaspora still in London, for everybody who wants to commemorate Nelson Mandela’s life.”

Hain said John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, had proposed the idea and that Westminster Hall was an ideal venue for people “come together and commemorate an incredible life”.

Cameron is also expected to travel to South Africa next week to take part in the South African government’s state memorial service commemorating the life of Mandela. On Friday morning Cameron signed a book of condolence for Mandela at South Africa House in London.

12.10pm GMT

The South African government has yet to announce details of the funeral arrangements.

The mourning period is expected to last more than a week, according to AP.

It reports the scene outside Mandela’s house.

Hours after his death on Thursday night, a black SUV-type vehicle containing Mandela’s coffin, draped in South Africa’s flag, pulled away from Mandela’s home after midnight, escorted by military motorcycle outriders, to take the body to a military morgue in Pretoria, the capital.

Many South Africans heard the news, which was announced on state TV by President Jacob Zuma wearing mourning black just before midnight, upon waking on Friday, and they flocked to his home in Johannesburg’s Houghton neighbourhood. One woman hugged her two sons over a floral tribute.

A dozen doves were released into the sky. A man walked around with a tall-stemmed sunflower. People sang tribal songs, the national anthem, God Bless Africa, the anthem of the anti-apartheid struggle and Christian hymns. Many wore traditional garb of Zulu, Xhosa and South Africa’s other ethnic groups. One carried a sign saying: “He will rule the universe with God”. Jewish and Muslim leaders were also present.

Preparing for larger crowds in the coming days, portable toilets were delivered. Also expecting an influx of mourners, a man sold flags and paraphernalia of Mandela’s political party, the African National Congress, or ANC. Zuma will lead a delegation of party officials to offer condolences to the Mandela family in Houghton.

Updated at 12.35pm GMT

11.56am GMT


Here’s a summary of the latest reaction and developments since Mandela’s death was announced last night:

• The world reactions show he was the most universally loved and revered leader in history. US leader, Barack Obama, said South Africa’s first black president, now “belonged to the ages”.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu led a mass in Cape Town’s St George’s cathedral. Pope Francis said he hoped Mandela would ” inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspiration”.

• British prime minister, David Cameron, described Mandela as a “hero of our time”. He signed a book of condolence at South Africa House in London. The Queen and the Prince of Wales also paid tribute. Flags have been flown at half mast above government buildings across the world.

The Australian and English cricket teams temporarily set aside their rivalry to pay tribute to Mandela at the second test in Adelaide. Wearing black armbands, the two teams joined in a one-minute silence on the field before the start of play.

• South Africans assembled outside Mandela’s home in Johannesburg and at his previous residence in Soweto to mourn and celebrate the life of their former president. Hundreds filled the streets around Mandela’s home, many singing songs of tribute and dancing.

Mandela’s body is reported to have been moved to a military hospital in Pretoria. His state funeral is expected to take place the weekend after next in Qunu, the village in Eastern Cape where he was born.

Updated at 12.37pm GMT

11.45am GMT

Pope Francis

Pope Francis paid tribute to Mandela’s struggle to forge a just South Africa, Reuters reports.

In a telegram to Jacob Zuma he said:

“I pray that the late president’s example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations.

The pontiff praised “the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation’s citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth”.

Updated at 11.49am GMT

11.22am GMT

Government buildings across the world are flying flags at half mast (with the notable exception of Australia).

The Twitter feeds of various governments have the photographic proof.

Updated at 12.15pm GMT

11.04am GMT

The Guardian’s video team has upload footage of former Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu leading a service there.

Updated at 12.38pm GMT

11.00am GMT

The Guardian’s photo team is running a separate blog showing the reaction in pictures.

10.57am GMT


The European commission has put together a video tribute to Mandela featuring him meeting various dignitaries, including Jacques Delores, and addressing the European parliament.

Updated at 11.00am GMT

10.41am GMT

Nadime Gordimer

The South African novelist Nadine Gordimer recalls what happened when Mandela was awarded the Nobel peace prize.

In a blogpost for the New Yorker, she writes:

When it was announced that Nelson Mandela was to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1993, the joy among some of us was slightly diminished by the Nobel committee’s decision to award the prize to FW de Klerk as well. There would be one ceremony in Oslo for both recipients. I was invited, along with George Bizos, to be in Mandela’s entourage. We travelled to Sweden with him and other ANC leaders, and we had the unforgettable experience of seeing him receive the honour.

After the ceremony, we had another kind of experience. As part of Mandela’s entourage, we stood on a balcony of the hotel where all of us, including Madiba (as Mandela was known), were staying. We saw him being celebrated by a huge crowd of people, Scandinavians and others, all singing and chanting ANC freedom songs. It was an ecstatic celebration. George and I noticed De Klerk and his wife standing on an adjoining balcony, and we were not able to credit what we saw next. The De Klerks turned their backs on the joyous crowd in the street below and retreated inside the hotel. Had de Klerk just realised that the songs were not for him?

Updated at 11.57am GMT

10.32am GMT

Caroline Davies has more reaction from the world of entertainment:

Steven Van Zandt, actor and guitarist with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street band, who in 1985 recruited performers to record Sun City, an anti-apartheid album, said: “Nelson Mandela set the standard for all revolutionaries past, present, and future: have a righteous cause, fight with dignity, and win with grace”.

Singer Geri Halliwell, who as a member of the Spice Girls pop group met Mandela, posted several pictures of their encounter on Twitter along with the message “Rip Nelson Mandela, it was a absolute honour to meet such an inspiring man, he was amazing, incredibly charming and warm”.

Updated at 10.58am GMT

10.28am GMT


The Guardian’s South Africa correspondent, David Smith, is tweeting the reaction in Soweto.

Updated at 10.29am GMT

10.19am GMT

David Cameron has signed a book of condolence at South Africa House in London.

In a message, he wrote:

Your cause of fighting for freedom and against discrimination, your struggle for justice, your triumph against adversity – these things will inspire generations to come.

And through all of this, your generosity, compassion and profound sense of forgiveness have given us all lessons to learn and live by.

He ended his message with a quote: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”

Updated at 10.57am GMT

10.16am GMT

Marwan Barghouti, who is often referred to as the Palestinian Mandela, has issued a statement from prison.

He said: “From within my prison cell, I tell you our freedom seems possible because you reached yours. Apartheid did not prevail in South Africa, and apartheid shall not prevail in Palestine.”

Updated at 10.24am GMT

10.10am GMT

Sporting tributes

At the Ashes, the Australia and England cricket teams temporarily set aside their rivalry to pay tribute to Mandela, writes Caroline Davies.

Wearing black armbands, the two teams joined in a one-minute silence on the field before the start of play in the second Test at Adelaide’s Oval.

Tributes poured in from sportspeople for a man who passionately believed in the power of sport to unite, and who very publicly demonstrated that when he embraced South Africa’s mainly white rugby team before they won the 1995 World Cup.

Today the website of Super Rugby paid homage to him by running his famous quote: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite in a way that little else does. Sport can create hope where there once was only despair.”

The South African Rugby Union president, Oregan Hoskins, said: “All of our lives are poorer today at the extinguishing of the great beacon of light and hope that led the way for our country through the transition to democracy. ‘Madiba’ was a great man of vision, determination and integrity who performed a miracle that amazed the world as much as it amazed his fellow countrymen.”

International Rugby Board chairman, Bernard Lapasset, said: “Mr Mandela was a truly remarkable man. I was honoured to be with him during the historic days of Rugby World Cup 1995 and saw his incredible impact on his nation and his people. His wisdom, intelligence and sheer presence was a wonder to behold.”

From the world of football, the former England captain David Beckham said: “We have lost a true gentleman and a courageous human being.”

Brazilian football star Pelé tweeted: “He was my hero, my friend. Let us carry on his work. He was one of the most influential people in my life.”

The Real Madrid and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo said: “Thankful Madiba for your legacy and your example. You’ll always stay with us.”

The Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, said flags of the world football body’s 209 member associations would fly at half-mast at its Swiss headquarters with a minute’s silence to be held before the next round of international matches.

Blatter said: “It is in deep mourning that I pay my respects to an extraordinary person, probably one of the greatest humanists of our time and a dear friend of mine: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. When he was honoured and cheered by the crowd at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium on 11 July 2010, it was as a man of the people, a man of their hearts, and it was one of the most moving moments I have ever experienced.”

The former heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali said in a statement: “What I will remember most about Mr Mandela is that he was a man whose heart, soul and spirit could not be contained or restrained by racial and economic injustices, metal bars or the burden of hate and revenge. He taught us forgiveness on a grand scale.”

Jamaican sprinter and Olympic champion Usain Bolt also took to Twitter. “One of the greatest human beings ever … May your soul rest in peace … The worlds greatest fighter,” he tweeted.

The US golfer Tiger Woods said: “I got a chance to meet him with my father back in ‘98. He invited us to his home, and it was one of the most inspiring times I’ve ever had in my life.”

Woods added: “Pop and I felt your aura when we met you. I feel it today and I will feel it forever. You have done so much for humanity.”

Tennis world No. 1, Rafael Nadal, said: “Rest in peace Nelson Mandela, you have been a role model to the world. My most sincere condolences to family and friends.”

International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, said: “He was a true statesman. A remarkable man who understood that sport could build bridges, break down walls, and reveal our common humanity.”

Updated at 10.37am GMT

9.54am GMT

Westminster Abbey will hold a national service of thanksgiving for the life of Mandela after the state funeral in South Africa, and has opened a book of condolence.

The dean and chapter of Westminster sent a message of condolence to the high commissioner for South Africa.

It said: “[Mandela] was an iconic figure who changed irrevocably the course of history in his country and the African continent and who changed the world’s attitude to issues of equality and human justice.”

Updated at 10.38am GMT

9.45am GMT

Police are guarding access to the military hospital in Pretoria where Mandela’s body was moved to early on Friday morning, according to South Africa’s EyeWitness News.

The officers are searching every car entering the facility.
A blue light convoy left Madiba’s Houghton home with his body and arrived at around 3am.
The N1 highway was flooded by blue lights as scores of official cars and motorbikes escorted a black vehicle carrying the casket.
This forms part of preparations for Madiba’s state funeral, a date for which has not yet been announced.

Mandela’s body will lie instate for three days in Pretoria, according to the BBC. His funeral is expected to be held on Saturday week in Qunu, the village in Eastern Cape where he was born.

Mandela always returned to the modest village where he grew up, write Emma Brockes and David Smith.

“Nature was our playground,” wrote Mandela in his memoir, Long Walk to Freedom. “The hills above Qunu were dotted with large smooth rocks which we transformed into our own rollercoaster. We sat on flat stones and slid down the face of the rocks. We did this until our backsides were so sore we could hardly sit down.”

Mandela’s “sliding stone” is still visible today, a big granite boulder with a track worn smooth and shiny by his childhood sport nearly a century ago. It is one of the rocky outcrops overlooking the bucolic valley of Qunu, the place where he grew up and always returned.

“Some of the happiest years of my boyhood were spent in Qunu,” Mandela wrote. The old men and women of Qunu smile to remember, remembering themselves.

If Mandela’s death inspires pilgrims, it is to this modest village in Eastern Cape province, where chickens scarper at the sound of a car and maize grows ad hoc in the yards, that they will come. It is hard to look at the green hills of the former Transkei, designated during the apartheid era as an “independent homeland” and as such a great source of political unrest, and not find in them some sympathy of scale with the man who emerged from them.

Updated at 10.42am GMT

9.33am GMT

Angela Merkel

Speaking to the press, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said:

Mandela led by shining example and his political legacy of peaceful resistance and the rejection of racism will continue to be an inspiration for people around the world. Several years in prison could not break Nelson Mandela or embitter him – out of his message of reconciliation came a new, better South Africa.

Updated at 11.59am GMT

9.28am GMT


The Chinese premier, Ki Keqiang, has sent a letter of condolence to Jacob Zuma.

The state news agency Xinhua quoted him saying: “Mandela is not only admired by the South African people, but also respected by people from all over the world.”

Updated at 11.59am GMT

9.25am GMT

Peter Hain

Former Welsh secretary Peter Hain, whose family was blacklisted and fled South Africa because of their support for the anti-apartheid movement, described Mandela as “a friend and a hero”, writes Caroline Davies.

Recalling Mandela’s 2000 visit to the Labour party conference in Brighton, the Labour MP for Neath said: “As I escorted him inside, he asked his usual question: ‘How’s the family?’

“On hearing my mother was in Swansea’s Morriston hospital with a fractured femur, he stopped immediately and said that he must speak to her.

“Out came my mobile and, when she answered from her hospital ward, she was greeted with: ‘Hello. Nelson Mandela here, do you remember me?’

Hain also remembered a “vintage Mandela performance” in 1998 when Mandela was awarded the Freedom of Cardiff on his only visit to Wales.

“He ignored my guiding arm on his elbow and stopped at a group of primary-school children sparkling in Welsh national dress.

“As the queue of VIPs waited, sweating in the unusually hot weather, he began conducting the children to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

“I later learned that it was the absence of his children that he missed most in all his long years of imprisonment on Robben Island.”

Updated at 10.43am GMT

9.20am GMT

Black Britain

Mandela changed the course of black British history, writes Hugh Muir.

When it seemed that Scotland Yard might have been able to cover up the botched investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence and deny the calls for justice from the family and the wider community, Mandela stepped in. No fiery words were necessary, because he carried moral authority. “I’m deeply touched by the brutality of this murder. It’s something we are all too used to in South Africa where black lives are cheap” was the observation. Devoid of rage or bitterness, yet scathing enough to jolt the complacent authorities, and suspects were soon arrested. With that critical help from Mandela at a critical time, the Lawrences set off that chain of events that saw our police and race relations subjected to unprecedented review; that led black and white to a new area of understanding. And, ultimately led to two of Stephen’s murderers being tried and sent to jail.

8.57am GMT

George Osborne

The chancellor’s autumn statement was drowned out first by storms and then by Mandela’s death.

He was booked on to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme for an interview on the British economy, but also gave this personal tribute to Mandela:

I grew up in the 1980s and the great protest movement of my childhood, the great campaign of my childhood, was for the release of Nelson Mandela, so he was very much a backdrop to my life, like the lives of many people listening.

What I remember about him above all is not just his incredible stamp of freedom, and the endurance of being in prison for so many years, but then turning around and reconciling himself with the people who kept him captive. Not only did he as a result avoid a very bloody civil war in South Africa, but I think he stands for something much bigger even than that, which is that there can be hope and reconciliation. That’s the most extraordinary thing about Nelson Mandela.

Updated at 10.44am GMT

8.47am GMT


Australia’s national flag has remained at full mast over Parliament House, in contrast to flags above Downing Street in the UK and the White House in Washington, writes Oliver Laughland in Sydney.

The prime minister’s office confirmed that Tony Abbott had not requested the flag be flown at half mast, but added that the decision to lower the flag rested with the presiding officers of parliament.
On Friday morning Abbott described Mandela as “arguably one of the great figures of the last century”.
Speaking to Fairfax radio, Abbott said Mandela was a “truly great man”.
“While I never met him, I did read that book A Long Walk To Freedom and I guess the impression we get of Nelson Mandela is someone who suffered but was not embittered but ennobled through that suffering.”
In the US, President Obama made the decision to order the lowering of flags on US government buildings and ships at sea.

Updated at 10.46am GMT

8.42am GMT

Mahmoud Abbas

The Palestinian president said Mandela was a “symbol of freedom from colonialism and occupation” and his death was a great loss for Palestine, whose cause he championed, writes Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem.

“The Palestinian people will never forget his historic statement that the South African revolution will not have achieved its goals as long as the Palestinians are not free,” Abbas said.

Many Palestinians and international observers have drawn parallels between Israel’s occupation of Palestine and the apartheid regime in South Africa, and Mandela was frequently cited as an inspirational hero for Palestinians.

Abbas described Mandela as the “most courageous and important of those who supported us”.

He added: “The name Mandela will stay forever with Palestine and with all Palestinians.”

Updated at 10.47am GMT

8.39am GMT

Here’s a roundup of some of the tributes from leading actors and entertainers:


Writing in Time, the U2 singer said:

He could charm the birds off the trees – and cash right out of wallets. He told me once how Margaret Thatcher had personally donated £20,000 to his foundation. “How did you do that?” I gasped. The Iron Lady, who was famously frugal, kept a tight grip on her purse. “I asked,” he said with a laugh. “You’ll never get what you want if you don’t ask.” Then he lowered his voice conspiratorially and said her donation had nauseated some of his cohorts. “Didn’t she try to squash our movement?” they complained. His response: “Didn’t De Klerk crush our people like flies? And I’m having tea with him next week … He’ll be getting the bill.”

Morgan Freeman

The actor who played Mandela in Invictus was quoted by Enterntainment Wise as saying:

Today the world lost one of the true giants of the past century. Nelson Mandela was a man of incomparable honour, unconquerable strength, and unyielding resolve – a saint to many, a hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind.

As we remember his triumphs, let us, in his memory, not just reflect on how far we’ve come, but on how far we have to go. Madiba may no longer be with us, but his journey continues on with me and with all of us.

Cat Stevens

Writing on Facebook, he said:

My shadowy link with the spirit of this man goes back to when I first heard the song Shosholoza in the all-black, South African musical, King Kong. It played for about a year in the Princes Theatre, across the road from my doorway, in 1961. Though I never understood the words, it was rooted in my musical influences way before even the Beatles stepped into the cavern. The song was about progress, freedom and a train coming to South Africa. The song was sung by working miners in time with the music beat as they were swinging their axes to dig. It was usually sung under hardship in ‘call and response’ style (one man singing a solo line and the rest of the group responding by copying him). It was also sung by prisoners in call and response style. Former South African President Nelson Mandela describes how he sang Shosholoza as he worked during his imprisonment on Robben Island. He describes it as “a song that compares the apartheid struggle to the motion of an oncoming train” and goes on to explain that “the singing made the work lighter”.

How strange that later, without knowing the words and history of this song I wrote Peace Train which mirrors the hope for the future of all suffering souls in every war torn land and country. Curious also is the fact that my return to music was triggered in South Africa while recording a children’s album, and following that, my return to the stage after 25 years was to honour Nelson Mandela at the 46664 concert for Aids victims in Cape Town, 2003.

R Kelly and Arsenio Hall

The R&B star R Kelly teamed up with the comic actor Arsenio Hall to record this tribute:

Nicole Scherzinger

The X Factor judge and singer made a moving tribute at Thursday night’s Cosmopolitan Women of the Year Awards, according to the Mirror. She sang a touching rendition of This Little Light of Mine – a song she said she’d performed for him in the past.

Updated at 10.51am GMT

8.15am GMT

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has emphasised Mandela’s role in uniting South Africa.

In an obituary for South Africa’s Mail and Guardian he wrote:

We thought enemies could become friends, as we followed Madiba in the path of forgiveness and reconciliation exemplified by the truth commission and a polyglot national anthem, 11 official languages, and a government of national unity in which the last apartheid president could be a deputy president and a “terrorist” the head of government.

Madiba lived what he preached. Had he not invited his former white jailer as a VIP guest to his presidential inauguration? Did he not have lunch with Percy Yutar, the prosecutor at the Rivonia trial? Had he not flown to Orania, the last Afrikaner outpost, to have tea with Betsy Verwoerd, the widow of the high priest of apartheid ideology?

He was amazing. Who will forget his support for the retention of the Springbok emblem for rugby, although it was much hated by blacks? And that breath-taking gesture when he walked on to the turf at Ellis Park wearing a Springbok jersey to present Francois Pienaar the trophy for beating the All Blacks in the final of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, with the huge crowd of mainly Afrikaner spectators chanting “Nelson, Nelson …” And who could have believed that we would live to see the day when blacks in Soweto would be celebrating a Springbok victory, as they did in 1995?

Madiba was an amazing gift to us and to the world. He believed fervently that a leader is there for the led, not for self-aggrandisement. He was a prodigal spendthrift as he worked tirelessly to raise funds for schools and clinics in rural areas. While in office, he used some of his salary to set up the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and later established his foundation for charitable works.

He was renowned the world over as the undisputed icon of forgiveness and reconciliation, and everybody wanted a piece of him. We South Africans basked in his reflected glory.

Updated at 12.13pm GMT

8.06am GMT

Aung San Suu Kyi

Burma’s pro-democracy leader has paid tribute to her fellow Nobel Peace prize winner. She said Mandela was a “great human being who raised the standard of humanity”.

She added:

I would like to express my extreme grief at the passing away of the man who stood for human rights and for equality in this world. He also made us understand that we can change the world.

Updated at 10.52am GMT

7.58am GMT

The Spectator’s outspoken columnist Rod Liddle demonstrates why it is just as well he is no longer editing the BBC’s Today programme. In a Spectator blogpost he writes:

Look; I’m sorry Nelson Mandela is dead …

But for Christ’s sake BBC, give it a bloody break for five minutes, will you? It’s as if the poor bugger now has to bear your entire self-flagellating white post-colonial bien pensant guilt; look! Famous nice black man dies! Let’s re-run the entire history of South Africa. That’s better than watching the country we’re in being flattened by a storm.

7.48am GMT

Tutu leads mass

Veteran anti-apartheid campaigner and former archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, led a service of remembrance in Cape Town’s St George’s Cathedral.

“Let us give him the gift of a South Africa united, one,” he said.

Updated at 10.53am GMT

7.35am GMT

The Queen’s tribute

The Queen said she was “deeply saddened”.

A statement from Buckingham Palace said:

The Queen was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Nelson Mandela last night. He worked tirelessly for the good of his country, and his legacy is the peaceful South Africa we see today, worked tirelessly for the good of his country, and his legacy is the peaceful South Africa we see today.

Her Majesty remembers with great warmth her meetings with Mr Mandela and sends her sincere condolences to his family and the people of South Africa at this very sad time.

The Prince of Wales also paid tribute to the former South African leader.

Mr Mandela was the embodiment of courage and reconciliation. He was also a man of great humour and had a real zest for life.

With his passing, there will be an immense void not only in his family’s lives, but also in those of all South Africans and the many others whose lives have been changed through his fight for peace, justice and freedom.

The world has lost an inspired leader and a great man. My family and I are profoundly saddened and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Updated at 11.58am GMT

7.24am GMT


Welcome to a new live blog covering the latest reaction to the death of Nelson Mandela.
You can read about how the announcement was made and the initial reaction here.

South Africa has begun a first full day of mourning with a memorial service led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Mandela’s body has been moved to a military hospital in Pretoria, and the South African government is due to announce arrangements for a full state funeral. Books of condolence are to be opened, and flags are flying at half mast.

The Guardian’s correspondent in South Africa, David Smith, describes the atmosphere in Soweto and Johannesburg in reaction to the news. Speaking to Oliver Laughland he also looks ahead to funeral plans and what the death might mean for the future of South Africa.

Updated at 10.55am GMT

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About Carl William Brown

I'm Carl William Brown a holistic teacher, a webmaster, a trader, and a writer of aphorisms and essays. I have written more than 9,000 original quotations and at present I'm also working at my only novel, Fort Attack, which is also a wide and open blog project. At the moment I'm teaching English in a secondary school, but up to now I have done a lot of other things as well, both in business, educational, sport and social fields. Some years ago, in 1997 following the examples of the Rotary or the Lyons Clubs I founded the Daimon Club Organization to promote every sort of activities, creativity, art, literature, new technologies, informatics, business and marketing, public health and education and to meet new friends with these kind of interests.
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