THE DEATH OF South Africa’s anti-apartheid leader and first democratic president Nelson Mandela has triggered an unprecedented worldwide chorus of respect and admiration.
Foreshadowing the guest list of what will likely be the most important funeral of recent decades, world leaders, campaigners, musicians, athletes, and others queued up to issue solemn tributes to the 95-year-old icon.
President Micheal D Higgins led the Irish tributes, saying that lives around the world had been changed by the leader’s “transformational life and enduring legacy”.
Here’s what else is being said about ‘Madiba’ around the world…
Mandela and his wife Winnie, following the leader’s 1990 release from prison in Cape Town [Greg English/AP/Press Association Images]
A unifier from the moment he walked out of prison. He taught us how to come together and believe in ourselves.
— Archbishop Desmond Tutu
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.
Former South African President F.W. De Clerk
Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, Madiba 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.
— US President Barack Obama
Many around the world were influenced by his selfless struggle for human dignity, equality and freedom. He touched our lives in deeply personal ways.
— United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Nelson Mandela was a towering figure in our time; a legend in life and now in death — a true global hero.
— British Prime Minister David Cameron
Through his dignity, grace and the quality of his forgiveness, he made racism everywhere not just immoral but stupid.
— Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
Today the world has lost one of its most important leaders and one of its finest human beings
— Former US President Bill Clinton
[Chris Young/PA Wire/Press Association Images]
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.
— Former US President George H.W. Bush
A hero. He was a friend and a companion in the popular fight and the fight for world peace.
— Brazilian football legend Pelé
Every time Melinda and I met Nelson Mandela, we left more inspired than ever. His grace and courage changed the world. This is a sad day.
— Microsoft founder Bill Gates
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.
— Actor Idris Elba
(The British actor portrays the leader in a new movie based on Mandela’s autobiography ‘A Long Walk to Freedom’)
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
— Britain’s Prince William
(Speaking at a London screening of the Mandela biopic)
It was as if he was born to teach the age a lesson in humility, in humour and above all else in patience.
Additional reporting, AFP