Barack Obama has joined world leaders paying tribute to Nelson Mandela, who has died age 95.
Obama, the United States’ first black president, said Mandela was an inspiration and one of the “most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings”.
British Prime Minister David Cameron called Mandela a “hero of our time” while French President Francois Hollande said his message would could continue to inspire freedom fighters.
Obama, speaking at the White House shortly after the announcement of Mandela’s death, said: “He achieved more than could be expected of any man.
“Today he’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.”
“I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s life. Like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the
example that Nelson Mandela set, and so long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him.”
David Cameron: “A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time.”
French President Francois Hollande said: “Nelson Mandela made history. That of South Africa and the whole world.
“Nelson Mandela’s message will not disappear. It will continue to inspire fighters for freedom, and to give confidence to peoples in the defense of just causes and universal rights.”
Pope Francis paid tribute to Nelson Mandela’s struggle to forge a just South Africa, praising the anti-apartheid hero’s commitment to non-violence, reconciliation and truth.
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,” Francis said in a telegram to South African President Jacob Zuma.
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”.
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt: “Nelson Mandela was man who changed the world. He was as firm in his belief in the equal value of every human being as he was strong in his will and ability to bring about reconciliation. He chose reconciliation where others would have chosen vengeance. He created a new South Africa and gave people around the world a role model and an ideal.”
Bill Clinton, who was U.S. president during Mandela’s time in office, said history would remember the former South African leader “as a champion for human dignity and freedom, for peace
He added: “We will remember him as a man of uncommon grace and compassion, for whom abandoning bitterness and embracing adversaries was not just a political strategy but a
way of life.”
Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe added his voice to the chorus of tributes. He said: “He fought for the abolition of apartheid with a strong will. On nation building, he made a major achievement with focus on the reconciliation of the people. He was a great leader. “
In Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro announced an official mourning period “for three days” in honour of the memory of what he called “this giant of Africa and of people all over the world, Nelson Mandela.”
Mandela had cited the writings of Che Guevara, hero of the Cuban revolution, as a source of inspiration and the country has a fond place in their hearts for the freedom fighter.
Pres Obama watches TV news coverage about the death of Nelson Mandela pic.twitter.com/hKlwBzGiVg— petesouza (@petesouza) 5 Décembre 2013