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PM, Obama and other world leaders pay tribute to 'inspirational' Mandela

Last updated on: December 06, 2013 14:54 IST

Mandela was a true Gandhian, it is as much India's loss: PM

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday hailed South Africa's anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela as a "true Gandhian" who would continue to inspire future generations after his death.

"A giant among men has passed away. This is as much India's loss as South Africa's. He was a true Gandhian," Dr Singh's office tweeted after the news of Mandela's death at the age of 95. "His life and work will remain a source of eternal inspiration for generations to come. I join all those who are praying for his soul."

President Pranab Mukherjee said, he was an "icon of inspiration for humanity". In his message, he said, he conveyed his profound grief and condolences over the loss of a statesman, world leader and icon of inspiration for humanity.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi paid tributes to Mandela saying the anti-apartheid icon redefined the meaning of courage, sacrifice and forgiveness and his death is like losing "a beloved father."

"Today, I join millions of Indians in mourning his loss. We feel bereft, as though we have lost a beloved father. We will be forever grateful that such a one as he walked this Earth of ours," she said.

The Congress president said like Mahatma Gandhi, who was his inspiration, Mandela was a leader who belonged to all humanity, "a towering beacon for all who cherish freedom, democracy and social justice."

Paying tributes to Mandela in the Lok Sabha, she said through the long years of his struggle for South Africa's freedom from oppression, racial prejudice, inequality and poverty, he "redefined the meaning of courage, sacrifice, and forgiveness."

"Over the 10,000 days he spent in a brutal prison, sacrificing 27 years of his life for the freedom of his people, his courage never wavered, nor did his conviction that his cause was just and true," Gandhi said, adding, that with his passing away the world is deprived of a luminous presence and a radiant spirit.

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Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Nelson Mandela in October 2006


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Unlikely to see a leader like him again: Obama

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Describing himself as one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela, United States President Barack Obama mourned the death of the South African anti-apartheid icon and said that the world was unlikely to see a leader like him again.

"I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela's life. My very first political action -- the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics was a protest against apartheid," Obama told White House reporters soon after he was informed about the death of the former South African president who died aged 95.

"I would study his words and his writings. The day he was released from prison it gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they're guided by their hopes and not by their fears. 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," Obama said.

Mourning the loss of Mandela, Obama said he was one of world's most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that "any of us will share time" with on this earth.

  "He no longer belongs to us; he belongs to the ages. Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, Madiba (Mandela's clan name) transformed South Africa and moved all of us."

"His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings and countries can change for the better. His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to, whether in the lives of nations or in our own personal lives," Obama said.

"The fact that he did it all with grace and good humour and an ability to acknowledge his own imperfections, only makes the man that much more remarkable. As he once said, 'I'm not a saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying’,” said the US President.

"For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived, a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice," Obama said as he led the nation in mourning the loss of Mandela.

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Photographs: Flickr

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Brightest light of our world gone out: David Cameron

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British Prime Minister David Cameron paid his tribute to Mandela after his death and said, "The brightest light of our world has gone out".

"One of the brightest lights of our world has gone out. Nelson Mandela was not just a hero of our time, but a hero of all time, the first president of a free South Africa, a man who suffered so much for freedom and justice," Cameron said.

The flag above Downing Street is flying at half-mast as a mark of respect, the BBC said.

Cameron said Britain shared with South Africa this moment of grief and recalled the strongest impression of meeting him was his "extraordinary compassion and generosity and forgiveness".

"Tonight, families across Britain will mourn with his family and everyone in South Africa. Your greatest son has moved millions and I believe that his inspiration for the future will be every bit as powerful as the extraordinary things he achieved in his remarkable life," he said.

Speaking outside Downing Street, the prime minister said, "Meeting him was one of the great honours of my life...My heart goes out to his family -- and to all in South Africa and around the world whose lives were changed through his courage".

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Image: British PM David Cameron meets with Nelson Mandela in the Nelson Mandela Foundation Offices on August 23, 2006 in Johannesburg
Photographs: Debbie Yazbek/Getty Images

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Nelson Mandela was a giant of justice: Ban Ki-moon

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council mourned the death of Mandela, saying the South African leader was a "giant for justice" and a human inspiration who made great personal sacrifices in his lifelong fight against racial oppression.

"Nelson Mandela was a singular figure on the global stage -- a man of quiet dignity and towering achievement, a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration. I am profoundly saddened by his passing," Ban said in his condolence message.

"On behalf of the United Nations, I extend my deepest condolences to the people of South Africa and especially to Nelson Mandela's family and loved ones," he said.

Ban said Mandela "devoted his life to the service of his people and humanity and he did so at great personal sacrifice. His principled stance and the moral force that underpinned it were decisive in dismantling the system of apartheid."

In a press statement, the 15-nation Security Council paid tribute to Mandela, saying he was an inspirational leader who transformed the lives of millions of people around the world.

"The members of the Security Council express their deepest admiration for the outstanding qualities of moral and political leadership displayed by Nelson Mandela throughout his lifetime. His lifelong fight against racial oppression and his decisive role in shaping the peaceful transition to a united and democratic South Africa are a lasting legacy to his country and to the world," said French Ambassador Gerard Araud, the President of the Security Council.

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Image: Mandela with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Seoul March 10, 2001
Photographs: Debbie Yazbek/Getty Images

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History will remember Nelson Mandela as champion for human dignity: Bill Clinton

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"Today the world has lost one of its most important leaders and one of its finest human beings. And Hillary, Chelsea and I have lost a true friend," said former US President Bill Clinton.

"History will remember Nelson Mandela as a champion for human dignity and freedom, for peace and reconciliation. 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," Clinton said.

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Image: Former US President Bill Clinton leans down to whisper toM andela during a visit to the Nelson Mandela Foundation July 19, 2007 in Johannesburg
Photographs: McNamee/Getty Images

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What an extraordinary and inspiring man Mandela was: Prince William

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Prince William and Catherine were watching a film premiere about the life of Nelson Mandela in London when news of the former South African president's death emerged.

"It's extremely sad and tragic news. We were just reminded of what an extraordinary and inspiring man Mandela was. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family right now," Prince William said after the film.

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Photographs: McNamee/Getty Images

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'Mandela an old friend of the Chinese people'

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China mourned the passing of Mandela and praised the former South African president as "an old friend of the Chinese people."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that Mandela made historical contributions to the establishment and development of China-South Africa relations.

"We express deep condolences over the passing of Mandela and convey sincere sympathy to the South African government and people and to Mandela's family," Hong said in a written statement.

As a famous leader of the anti-apartheid movement, Mandela is revered as "founding father" in South Africa and an outstanding statesman in the world, winning worldwide respect and love, he said.

 


Image: South African President Nelson Mandela escorted by the then Chinese President Jiang Zemin listens to the South African national anthem during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in May 1999
Photographs: Reuters

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