World grieves for hero Mandela
Friday, December 06, 2013
Friday, December 06, 2013
Update: 2:17PM A wave of grief has rolled across the world today following news of the death of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela. Leaders and South Africans have paid emotional tribute to the man dubbed "a colossus".
"We've lost our greatest son. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father," South African President Jacob Zuma said in a televised address that aired around the world.
"Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss."
Although Mandela had been frail and ailing for nearly a year,President Jacob Zuma's announcement today of the death of the former president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate shook South Africa.
Tributes began flooding in almost immediately for a man who was an iconic global symbol of struggle against injustice and of racial reconciliation
Former South African president Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest freedom fighters and political leaders of the 20th century, has died aged 95 surrounded by family at his Johannesburg home.
"Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father," South African president Jacob Zuma said in a live TV address to the nation.
"Although we knew this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss. This is the moment of our deepest sorrow."
Hundreds of South Africans gathered outside the house in the middle of the night for an impromptu vigil, dancing the "Madiba jive", singing anti-apartheid songs and shouting "Viva Mandela!". Some were draped in flags, others still wore their pyjamas.
I remember him on the day he was in Melbourne - October 1990, eight months after his release from prison in South Africa, three-and-a-half years before he would be elected the country's president. After 27 years as a political prisoner of South Africa's apartheid government, he was on an international tour to thank those whose pressure finally led to his release. Australia's unions, then under Bob Hawke, had been among those supporters and now Mr Mandela had come to thank the man who became prime minister.
Wendy and I went up to Melbourne to the gathering to welcome Nelson Mandela to Melbourne. It was at the building that once was the Olympic swimming pool. There was an African concert first, then Nelson Mandela arrived. I was excited and jumped up and down and people cheered and cheered. We sat upstairs and downstairs could see some of our relatives – a cousin married to a Gyana man. It was an event I will always remember.