Touching words of tribute for Nelson Mandela, reflecting the immense impact he had on his fellow world leaders, are pouring in. South Africa’s first black president and one of the world’s most beloved statesmen died on Thursday at age 95.
South African President Jacob Zuma announced Mandela’s death on national television: “Fellow South Africans, our beloved Nelson Rohlihla Mandela, the founding president of our democratic nation, has departed.”
He said the nation “has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.”
President Barack Obama went to South Africa and met Mandela’s family earlier this year, but he did not meet with the ailing leader, who was hospitalized.
The White House tweeted President Obama’s first reactions: “A man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.” And “We will not see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. It falls to us to carry forward the example that he set.”
Former President George W. Bush issued a statement from his Dallas office:
“Laura and I join the people of South Africa and the world in celebrating the life of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. President Mandela was one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our time. He bore his burdens with dignity and grace, and our world is better off because of his example.
“This good man will be missed, but his contributions will live on forever. Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathy to President Mandela’s family and to the citizens of the nation he loved.”
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Nelson Mandela was “a giant for justice” whose “selfless struggle for human dignity, equality and freedom” inspired many people around the world.
“Nelson Mandela showed what is possible for our world, and within each one of us, if we believe a dream and work together for justice and humanity,” Ban told reporters. “Let us continue each day to be inspired by Nelson Mandela’s lifelong example to keep working for a better and more just world.”
The U.N. Security Council paused a meeting on the tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda to pay silent tribute to Mandela.
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: “A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time. I’ve asked for the flag at No10 to be flown at half mast.”
He later said in a statement, “Nelson Mandela was a towering figure in our time; a legend in life and now in death – a true global hero.”
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that “the world has lost one of its great moral leaders and statesmen.”
Associated Press contributed to this report.