Nelson Mandela dies aged 95 – live updates
- Nelson Mandela, one of the most significant figures of the twentieth and twenty first centuries has died aged 95 at his home in Johannesburg. He passed away in the company of his family.
- Mandela’s legacy and memory has been celebrated and his passing mourned by leaders around the world. President Obama, the United States’ first black president said Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, now “belonged to the ages”. Obama said Mandela “embodied the promise that human beings and countries can change for the better” and paid homage to the influence Mandela had on his own political career.
- British prime minister David Cameron described Mandela as a “hero of our time”, whilst Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu described Mandela as like “a most precious diamond honed deep beneath the surface of the earth”.
- South African president Jacob Zuma described Mandela’s passing as a “moment of our deepest sorrow”. Announcing Mandela’s passing late on Thursday evening, Zuma said he would receive a state funeral and ordered that flags fly at half-mast.
- South Africans assembled outside Mandela’s home in Johannesburg and at his previous residence in Soweto to mourn and pay tribute to the former president. All over the world, others have joined the mourning.
- On Friday morning the state news service in South Africa reported that Mandela’s body had been moved to a hospital in Pretoria. Tutu is also reported to have held a service in memory of Mandela in Cape Town, early Friday morning.
This live blog is now closing. The Guardian’s live coverage continues here.
I’ve just got off the phone with my colleague David Smith who is in Johannesburg. David described the scenes outside Mandela’s house last night and what the atmosphere is like there this morning. He took a forward look to funeral preparations and examined what Mandela’s death means for the future of the nation.
Here is the full audio:
Mandela’s body moved to Pretoria hospital
South African news agency News 24 are reporting that Mandela’s body has been moved to One Military hospital in Pretoria. On Thursday South African president Jacob Zuma said that Mandela will accorded a state funeral and ordered that all flags be flown at half-mast until the funeral is over.
Early on Friday morning, South African time, Archbishop Desmond Tutu led a memorial service in Capetown where he called for South Africa to become as a nation what Mandela had been as a man.
Newspapers around the world have run the news of Nelson Mandela’s death on their front pages. The Guardian has put together a selection of them.
Google have also posted a tribute in their search bar:
Here is a video of South Africans in Houghton, Johannesburg, singing and dancing outside Mandela’s home. The video also shows another group gathering in Soweto where his former house is:
The Guardian’s multimedia team have put together a moving video using extracts of Mandela’s iconic statement from the dock made at the opening of his 1964 trial at the Supreme court in Pretoria. Mandela faced charges of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and was eventually convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
During the statement, Mandela said that “a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities” was “an ideal for which I am prepared to die“.
Here is a video Prince William‘s comments:
India’s prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh has described Mandela as a “true Gandhian”. Gandhi spent formative years as a political activist in South Africa.
Some excellent comments from Guardian readers around the world who have responded to our Witness call out:
Tim Van Der Merwe recalls the 1994 election, which saw Mandela assume the South African presidency. Tim was seven years old and living in South Africa:
ibenito remembers watching Mandela’s release from prison in 1990:
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon says Nelson Mandela was “a giant for justice” whose “selfless struggle for human dignity, equality and freedom” inspired many people around the world.
“No one did more in our time to advance the values and aspirations of the United Nations,” he said.
Describing a meeting with Mandela in 2009, Ban said:
… I thanked him for his life’s work, he insisted the credit belonged to others. I will never forget his selflessness and deep sense of shared purpose.
The UN Security Council interrupted a meeting on the tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and stood for a minute in silent tribute to Mandela.
The UN General Assembly in 2009 adopted a resolution declaring Nelson Mandela International Day, the first ever international day in honor of an individual. It is celebrated every year on July 18, his birthday.
Former US president George HW Bush, who was in office at the time of Mandela’s release from prison has issued a statement:
Barbara and I mourn the passing of one of the greatest believers in freedom we have had the privilege to know.
As President, I watched in wonder as Nelson Mandela had the remarkable capacity to forgive his jailers following 26 years of wrongful imprisonment – setting a powerful example of redemption and grace for us all. He was a man of tremendous moral courage, who changed the course of history in his country.
My colleague Amanda Holpuch in New York has been to a South African restaurant in Brooklyn to hear people’s thoughts. Here is an extract from her report:
Madiba, a South African restaurant and bar in the Brooklyn borough of New York, was crowded with press and patrons on Thursday night as the bar’s televisions carried the news of Mandela’s death.
“It’s incredibly sad, he’s our hero, he humbled me as a person, there’s no question he’s had a huge effect on my life,” said South Africa-born Madiba manager, Denis Du Preez, 37.
The restaurant’s name is an homage to Nelson Mandela and his face was plastered across the bar on murals, posters and paintings long before his death.
“I would love to be there but I think that would really break me,” said Du Preez, who left South Africa when he was 20.
People clinked wine glasses with Du Preez as waiters carried plates of South African cuisine like curried frikkadels and lamb sosatie to hungry diners.
“We’ve been mourning for a while and I guess it’s just a time to celebrate his life and reflect and think what he actually did for us, because sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” said Yolanda Mthimkhulu, 28, who grew up in South Africa and moved to New York a year ago.
My colleague Justin McCurry has filed this from Tokyo:
Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, described Mandela as a “great leader” who “fought with a strong will to eliminate apartheid and achieved a great deal by putting national reconciliation at the centre of his nation-building”.
The foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, offered his condolences to Mandela’s family and the government and people of South Africa. Kishida told reporters:
I wish to express my heartfelt respect for the achievements of the former South African president, and hope that the government and people of South Africa will overcome their grief and go on to further develop their country.
Some photos of mourners around the world:
The UK premiere of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a film based on Mandela’s acclaimed autobiography, ended with the announcement of his death.
A release from the Nelson Mandela Foundation office that Mandela’s two youngest daughters were in the audience:
Nelson Mandela’s two youngest daughters attended the Royal Premiere of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom in London last night. They received the news of their father’s passing during the screening and immediately left the cinema.
The premiere was attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Prince William described Mandela’s death as “extremely sad and tragic news”.
We were just reminded of what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family right now.
Idris Elba, who plays Mandela in the film, said:
What an honour it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described Mandela as “one of the most honourable figures of our time”. He continues:
He was the father of his people, a man of vision, a freedom fighter who rejected violence. He set a personal example for his people in the long years he spent in prison. He was never arrogant. He worked to mend the tears in South African society and with his character managed to prevent outbursts of racial hatred. He will be remembered as the father of new South Africa and as an outstanding moral leader.
Video footage from outside Mandela’s Johannesburg home are being posted to Instagram. Here are a few clips (note: we have not been able to verify them).
F.W. de Klerk, the South African National Party president who negotiated the end of apartheid and released Nelson Mandela from prison, has made his first public comments on Mandela’s death. The 77 year-old told CNN:
He was a great unifier and a very, very special man in this regard beyond everything else he did. This emphasis on reconciliation was his biggest legacy.
There was an immediate, I would say, a spark between the two of us, and notwithstanding the many spats we had, I respected him and I always liked him as a person. He was a magnanimous person. He was a compassionate person.
He was taller than I expected – he was ramrod straight. He looked one in the eye very directly, he was a good listener and I could see very easily that he had an analytical approach to discussions, which I liked very much. I was really very impressed with him at that first meeting.
The Guardian’s South Africa correspondent David Smith is outside Mandela’s Johannesburg home. He’s sent these evocative tweets describing the scenes:
West African leaders react
My colleague Afua Hirsch has filed a number this report from Ghana:
In West Africa, where many countries were among the first to gain independence from colonial rule but then suffered years of repressive African dictatorships, Mandela’s struggle against apartheid was seen as a symbol of the quest for democracy.
Ghana’s president, John Dramani Mahama, said that Mandela was “an icon, not only of hope, but also of the possibility of healing.”
It is no coincidence that in the years since Mandela’s release so much of Africa has turned toward democracy and the rule of law,” writes Mahama, in an op-ed being published in tomorrow’s New York Times. “His utilization of peace as a vehicle of liberation showed Africa that if we were to move beyond the divisiveness caused by colonization, and the pain of our self-inflicted wounds, compassion and forgiveness must play a role in governance.
The long walk to freedom, was also Africa’s story. The indignation that once permeated our continent has been replaced by inspiration. The undercurrent of pessimism resulting from the onslaught of maladies — wars, coups, disease, poverty and oppression — has given way to a steadily increasing sense of possibility.
It wasn’t just Nelson Mandela who was transformed during those years of his imprisonment. We all were. And Africa is all the better because of that.
Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan said Mandela was one of history’s “greatest liberators”.
Mandela will always be remembered and honoured by all mankind as one of its greatest liberators, a wise, courageous and compassionate leader, and an icon of true democracy.
[Mandela’s] death will create a huge vacuum that will be difficult to fill in our continent.
One of the first Francophone leaders in Africa to react is Senegalese president Macky Sall, currently in Paris, who said Mandela was an iconic figure for all Africans.
We have lost a giant, one of the greatest figures in contemporary Africa. No man of our time has given so much for the cause of his people, for Africa, and for the good of mankind,” said Sall. “Nelson Mandela taught us courage, strength, forgiveness. He showed us that a human being could be better.
We admired him as a hero of modern times and admired his wisdom will be eternal
Mandela is gone, but his gigantic legacy will remain one of the greatest ever accomplished by one man.
We’re going to hand off the live blog to our colleagues in Australia. Here’s a tribute from the historic Apollo theater in Harlem, New York City:
The Guardian’s Katie Rogers (@katierogers) continues to cull excellent material submitted by readers:
The New Yorker’s striking cover for next week:
The Guardian’s Alan Yuhas (@AlanYuhas) notes that it took the United States government – including, notably, then-Rep. Dick Cheney – rather embarrassingly long to vote support for Nelson Mandela:
In 1986, Congress considered the Anti-Apartheid Act, which proposed sanctions on South Africa’s apartheid government and supported freedom for Mandela, who, by association with the ANC, was on the US’s terror watch list.
Then-representative Dick Cheney voted against the bill. Despite conservative opposition, the bill reached President Reagan’s, desk only to be vetoed. Reagan argued that extremists were making the country more violent and sanctions would only exacerbate the situation.
Twenty-two years later, President George W Bush signed a bill that removed Mandela’s name from the terror watch list and restored his traveling rights.
Then-vice-president Dick Cheney had since said that he had no regrets about the vote, though he considered Mandela a “great man” who had “mellowed”.
British foreign secretary William Hague has released a statement on the death of Mandela. “Mandela was one of the greatest moral and political leaders of our time,” Hague writes:
His life story is a compelling and inspiringly profound political journey. An international icon and inspiration to millions, his appeal transcended race, religion and class. He was at once a leader of immense character and strength, and a man closely attuned to the needs of his people. …
He will be greatly missed across the world.
Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten and deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek have released a statement on the death of Mandela. “Today we have lost the light of our world” they said in a joint statement:
“Mandela was a true leader, a statesmen and the defining symbol of reconciliation. He achieved perhaps more than any other leader in his pursuit of peace, acceptance and justice. The slow struggle for reconciliation does not end today – not for South Africa, and not for any of us.
Let today renew our resolve for reconciliation. Mandela was an example to the world – we must live by that example.”
Former prime minister Julia Gillard said the world has lost a great man.
“As we grieve for Nelson Mandela we should also celebrate his tremendous victory over prejudice and hate,” she Tweeted.
Former vice president Al Gore, in a statement, recalled watching Mandela’s release from prison on television:
“My son and I were home in Nashville; the only ones awake early on a Sunday morning. We sat on the couch and watched as Madiba was set free. I remember thinking that whatever important milestones my children and grandchildren witness in the coming century, few will rival this one,” he wrote.
Reverend Al Sharpton, the US civil rights leader who acted as an official observer in the first free elections in South Aftrica, said Mandela was “universal symbol of tolerance and hope” and was a figure who “resonated with Americans of all colours”.
“He eternalised the greatness of the struggle for human beings to be free,” said Sharpton. “He was not only able to break the shackles of bigotry and bias and hate, but he did it without internalising the battles he was fighting.”
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has published his reflections in the Guardian:
Nelson Mandela changed the course of history – for South Africa and the US
The South African president, who was labeled a terrorist, became more than a historical figure; he was a transformer
President Nelson Mandela was truly a transformative force in the history of South Africa and the world. My heart weighs heavy about his transition, but we are reassured because his life was full, and we know the imprint he left on our world is everlasting.
Read Jackson’s full piece here.
The South Africa Broadcasting Corporation reports that president Jacob Zuma was on his way to the Mandela home in suburban Johannesburg.
In the South African capital, as elsewhere around the world, it appears to be a night of a thousand vigils:
The Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who headed up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission following the fall of apartheid, has released a statement on the death of Mandela. The statement contains eight numbered sub-statments. Here are the first four:
1. Condolences: To uTata Mandela’s beloved wife, Graca Machel, his former wife, Winnie Madikizela, the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – and to all the Madibas – we express our deepest and most heartfelt sympathy on the loss of your paterfamilias, your patriarch. Although we collectively claim him as the father of our nation, and the pain we feel is similar to that of losing a close relative, he was your husband, your father and your grandfather. We pray that God will dry your tears and renew your strength. We thank you for sharing uTata with us. And we thank God for him. We are relieved that his suffering is over, but our relief is drowned by our grief. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
2. People cared about Nelson Mandela, loved him, because of his courage, convictions and care of others’. He set aside the bitterness of enduring 27 years in apartheid prisons – and the weight of centuries of colonial division, subjugation and repression – to personify the spirit and practice of Ubuntu. He perfectly understood that people are dependent on other people in order for individuals and society to prosper.
3. He transcended race and class in his personal actions, through his warmth and through his willingness to listen and to emphasise with others. And he restored others’ faith in Africa and Africans.
4. Was Nelson Mandela an anomaly, an exception that proves the rule?
I would say, no. Certainly, he was exceptional. But the spirit of greatness that he personified resides in all of us. Human beings are made for greatness. Nelson Mandela embodied and reflected our collective greatness. He embodied our hopes and our dreams. He symbolised our enormous potential, potential that has not always been fulfilled.
Nelson Mandela was not a lone wolf, and he did not fall from the sky. He learned about leadership and culture growing up in the care of AbaThembu Regent Jongintaba after the death of his father. He learned from the experience of developing a voice for young people in anti-apartheid politics, and from physically prosecuting the struggle. He learned from the comrades who surrounded him, an extraordinary generation of leaders. To all of this, the crucible of prison seemed to add a deep understanding of the human condition and a profound ability to empathise with others.
Like a most precious diamond honed deep beneath the surface of the earth, the Madiba who emerged from prison in January 1990 was virtually flawless.
We’re collecting reactions and memories from Guardian readers around the globe through our GuardianWitness tool.
The Guardian’s Katie Rogers (@katierogers) is distilling your comments – please keep the contributions coming. Some readers remember Mandela as a symbol of strength and dignity from their childhoods, and others were recipients of kind words (and a bear hug) from him:
Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has released a statement on the death of Nelson Mandela. Video of Abbott reading the statement is here. Mandela was “more than a political leader, he was a moral leader,” Abbott says:
The world mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela will forever be remembered as more than a political leader, he was a moral leader.
He spent much of his life standing against the injustice of apartheid.
When that fight was won, he inspired us again by his capacity to forgive and reconcile his country.
While the world may never see another Nelson Mandela, he has inspired countless men and women throughout the world to live more courageous and honest lives.
On behalf of the Australian Government and the Australian community, I extend my condolences to Mr Mandela’s family and to the people of South Africa.
Former US president George W Bush has released a statement on the death of Mandela:
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.
British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has released a statement on the death of Mandela. “The world has lost the inspirational figure of our age,” Miliband says:
Nelson Mandela taught people across the globe the true meaning of courage, strength, hope and reconciliation.
From campaigner to prisoner to President to global hero, Nelson Mandela will always be remembered for his dignity, integrity and his values of equality and justice.
He was an activist who became President and a President who always remained an activist. Right to the end of his life he reminded the richest nations of the world of their responsibilities to the poorest.
Above all, he showed us the power of people, in the cause of justice, to overcome the mightiest obstacles.
He moved the world and the world will miss him deeply.
During the struggle against apartheid, the Labour party was proud to stand with the people of South Africa in solidarity. Today we stand with the people of South Africa in mourning.
Former US president Bill Clinton tweets, ‘I will never forget my friend’:
Nelson Mandela: a life in pictures. View the Guardian’s narrative slide show of Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy here.
More from President Obama, who expresses hope that Mandela’s family, having spent the past few weeks with him, found “peace and comfort”.
We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again, so it falls to us as best we can to forge the example that he set, to make decisions guided not by hate but by love, to never discount the difference that one person can make.
For now, let us pause and give thanks that Nelson Mandela lived, for a man who took [history] in his hands and bent the arc of history toward justice.
Barack Obama: ‘Today he’s gone home’
President Barack Obama has made a statement at the White House on the death of Mandela.
I cannot imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set. Nelson Mandela lived for that ideal, and he made it real. He achieved more than could be expected of any man. And today’s he’s gone home.
He no longer belongs to us, he belongs to the ages.
Obama described how Mandela’s journey from prisoner to president “embodied the promise that human beings and countries can change for the better”.
He praised Mandela’s reconciliation with those who jailed him. As he once said: “I’m not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”
Obama said that he was one of “countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s life” His very first political action was to protest against apartheid. “I would study his words and his writings. The day he was released from prison gave me an [example] for what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not their fears. I cannot imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set.
Turning to the Mandela family, Obama said:
Michelle and I extend our deepest sympathies and gratitude for sharing this extraordinary man with us.
The Guardian’s David Beresford, who was appointed Johannesburg correspondent in 1984, has filed an obituary of Nelson Mandela. “One must go back to Dallas, Texas, in 1963 to find a comparable occasion of collective bereavement as that which has met the death of Nelson Mandela, at the age of 95,” Beresford writes:
Even the assassination of President John F Kennedy registered less resonantly in the days before the global village – and, in any case, the trajectory of the American politician’s life represented promise shattered rather than hope fulfilled.
Mandela has surely been venerated by more millions in his lifetime than any political figure in history. In working to free his country from racial division, he led an essentially peaceful revolution, culminating in his release from prison in 1990 and the post-apartheid election of 1994, which saw him elected as the first president of a democratic South Africa. The world responded to the qualities it perceived in the man, as well as to the scale of his achievement.
Read the full obituary of Nelson Mandela here.
British prime minister David Cameron announces the flag at the official residence will be lowered in mourning at Mandela’s death.
Mandela was arrested in 1956 for “high treason” against the state, in a case that concluded without conviction. Eight years later, Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to overthrow the government.
Mandela served one five-year term before retiring from public life in 2004. He was widely respected for the forgiveness he showed towards his former enemies, with many crediting Mandela’s attitude with helping bring a peaceful end to apartheid despite widespread fears the transition would lead to violence.
He won the Nobel peace prize along with the last apartheid-era president FW de Klerk in 1993 for their negotiations to end apartheid. As president he introduced a new constitution for South Africa and set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past abuses of human rights. He also reformed land ownership, improved healthcare and battled poverty.
He became a global symbol for the fight against racism, and was seen as the father of his nation.
President Obama will make a statement in about 15 minutes on the death of Mandela, the White House has announced.
Zuma: ‘Moment of our deepest sorrow’
South African President Jacob Zuma has just completed his announcement of Mandela’s death. Here is what he said:
Fellow South Africans, our beloved Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding president of our democratic nation, has departed. He passed on peacefully in the capital ….
Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. But though we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of the profound and enduring loss.
His tireless struggle for freedom had him the respect of the world. His humility, his compassion and his humanity lend him their love.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family. To them we owe a debt of gratitude. They have sacrificed much and endured much so that our people could be free. Our thoughts are with his wife, his former wife, with his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandhchildren and the entire family. Our thoughts are with his friends, comrades and colleagues who fought alongside Madiba on the cause of a lifetime …
Our thoughts are with the South African people, who today mourn the loss of the one person who, more than any other, came to embody their sense of a nation.
Our thoughts are with the millions of people across the world who embraced Madiba as their own, and who saw his cause as their cause.
This is the moment of our deepest sorrow. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Yet what made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves. And in him we saw so much of ourselves.
Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together, and it is together that we will bid him farewell. Our beloved Madiba will be accorded a state funeral. I have ordered that all flags of the Republic of South Africa be lowered to half mast … and to remain at half-mast until after the funeral.
Let us conduct ourselves with the dignity and respect that Madiba personified. Let us be mindful of his wishes and the wishes of his family, as we gather wherever we are, in the country and wherever we are in the world. Let us recall the values for which Madiba fought. Let us reaffirm his vision of a society in which none is exploited, oppressed, or dispossessed by none. Let us commit ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, to build a untied, nonracial, nonsexist, democratic and prosperous south africa.
Let us express each in our own way the deep gratitude we feel for a life spent in service of the people of this country and in the cause of humanity.
That is indeed the moment of our deepest sorrow. Yet it must also be the moment of our greatest determination, a determination to live as Madiba has lived, to strive as he has strived, and to not rest until we have realized his vision of a truly unified South Africa.
We will always love you, Madiba. May your soul rest in peace. God Bless Africa.
Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa and hero of the country’s anti-apartheid struggle, has died aged 95 after a recurring lung infection. The announcement was made by the country’s president, Jacob Zuma, on Thursday.
Mandela had been increasingly frail and in poor health in recent years and had been in hospital several times in the last year. He had a history of lung problems dating back to his years in prison, when he contracted tuberculosis.
Since leaving hospital after three weeks’ treatment in December, Mandela – often referred to in South Africa by his clan name Madiba – had been receiving medical care at his home in an affluent Johannesburg suburb. He had spent most of 2012 in Qunu, the village where he grew up in the poor province of Eastern Cape.
Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment by South Africa’s former white-minority regime in 1964 for conspiring to overthrow the government before being released in 1990 and elected as the country’s first democratic president in 1994.
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