Nelson Mandela Dies: The World Reacts

By An Phung
|  Friday, Dec 6, 2013  |  Updated 5:22 AM PDT
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    Obama Mourns Death of Icon Nelson Mandela

    President Barack Obama says the world has lost an influential, courageous and `profoundly good' man with the death of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.
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    World leaders and social media followers alike are mourning South African former president and anti-apartheid crusader Nelson Mandela, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 95.

    Scroll down to see reactions from leaders and from around the web.

    For those who want to take to social media to share their reaction, NBC News is using the #RememberingMandela hashtag across the network on Twitter.

    President Barack Obama: "He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages. 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."

    Former President George W. Bush: "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."

    Former 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. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Graça and his family and to the people of South Africa. All of us are living in a better world because of the life that Madiba lived. He proved that there is freedom in forgiving, that a big heart is better than a closed mind, and that life's real victories must be shared."

    Former President George H.W. Bush: "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. Barbara and I had great respect for President Mandela, and send our condolences to his family and countrymen."

    Former President Jimmy Carter: "The people of South Africa and human rights advocates around the world have lost a great leader. His passion for freedom and justice created new hope for generations of oppressed people worldwide, and because of him, South Africa is today one of the world's leading democracies. In recent years, I was gratified to be able to work with him through The Elders to encourage resolution of conflicts and advance social justice and human rights in many nations. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family at this difficult time."

    Former Vice President Al Gore: Today marks the passing of one of the greatest leaders and visionaries in the history of our world, Nelson Mandela. President Mandela has already been immortalized as an enduring symbol of compassion and courage. I had the honor of working with Madiba often during my time as co-chairman of the U.S.-South Africa Binational Commission. Each and every time I was with him, I was awed by his commanding yet graceful presence. Along with hundreds of millions, I still vividly remember the day Madiba was released from Pollsmoor Prison just outside of Cape Town. 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. Madiba once wrote, "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." We should take a moment today to bow our heads and pay our respects to an extraordinarily courageous man who truly changed the world for the better and, in the process, inspired us all.

    House Speaker John Boehner: "Nelson Mandela was an unrelenting voice for democracy and his 'long walk to freedom' showed an enduring faith in God and respect for human dignity. His perseverance in fighting the apartheid system will continue to inspire future generations. Mandela led his countrymen through times of epic change with a quiet moral authority that directed his own path from prisoner to president."

    Television personality and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey: One of the great honors of my life was to be invited to Nelson Mandela's home, spend private time and get to know him.  He was everything you've ever heard and more - humble and unscathed by bitterness. And he always loved to tell a good joke. Being in his presence was like sitting with grace and majesty at the same time. He will always be my hero.  His life was a gift to us all.

    Congressman and former Civil Rights leader John Lewis: "There was this unbelievable relationship between what was happening in s Africa and what was happening in America. Mr. Mandela learned to stand in prison for 27 years and he came out committed to peace. Through his leadership he liberated the spirit of oppressed and spirit of the oppressor. He just made me  feel more human.

    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi: "With the passing of Nelson Mandela, the world has lost a leader who advanced the cause of equality and human rights, who overcame a history of oppression in South Africa to expand the reach of freedom worldwide. He led the campaign to defeat apartheid through non-violence, peace, and dialogue. He never allowed resentment to drive him away from the path of reconciliation. He emerged from prison to set free an entire nation; he shed the bonds of slave labor to reshape the fate of his people."

    Senior Senator John McCain (R-AZ): In the moment of his triumph, when South Africa became a true democracy, and he became its President, he did not seek or encourage vengeance. He didn't demand retribution for the years stolen from him and others. He simply went about his work building a better country from the ashes of its tortured past, a country that would honor the sacrifices made for freedom by respecting the dignity of all its citizens. "

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "My thoughts are with Nelson Mandela's family and with the people of South Africa during this difficult time. As both the emancipator of a people and the founder of a modern democracy, Mandela was one of the truly unique and transcendent figures of our time. Mandela embodied the very spirit of democracy, freedom, and equality. He leaves behind an incredible legacy that will not be forgotten, and which will continue to inspire current and future leaders for generations to come."

    The Prince of Wales: "Mr Mandela was the embodiment of courage and reconciliation. He was also a man of great humour and had a real zest for life. With his passing, there will be an immense void not only in his family's lives, but also in those of all South Africans and the many others whose lives have been changed through his fight for peace, justice and freedom."

    Cardinal Timothy Dolan: "As Blessed Pope John Paul II noted during his visit to South Africa in 1995, Nelson Mandela was for many years, 'a silent and suffering "witness" of your people's yearning for true liberation,' who, as President of South Africa, had to then 'shoulder the burden of inspiring and challenging everyone to succeed in the task of national reconciliation and reconstruction.' In succeeding in these crucial and difficult tasks, Nelson Mandela truly made the world a better place. May he rest in peace."

    Musician and activist Bono: "It was as if he was born to teach the age a lesson in humility, in humour and above all else in patience.  In the end, Nelson Mandela showed us how to love rather than hate, not because he had never surrendered to rage or violence, but because he learnt that love would do a better job.  Mandela played with the highest stakes.  He put his family, his country, his time, his life on the line, and he won most of these contests.  Stubborn til the end for all the right reasons, it felt like he very nearly outstared his maker.  Today, finally, he blinked.  And some of us cry, knowing our eyes were opened to so much because of him."

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg: "Today, we lost one of the most transformative and influential figures in modern history. Nelson Mandela was a global icon who broke the back of apartheid in South Africa and inspired generations of people around the world with his spirit of resolve and reconciliation. The tickertape parade Mayor Dinkins organized for him in 1990 was a great moment for our city, and his visit here in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 helped give our city strength and hope — for which we will be forever grateful."

     

    Education Activist Malala Yousafza: "Nelson Mandela is physically separated from us but his soul and spirit will never die. He belongs to the whole world because he is an icon of equality, freedom and love, the values we need all the time everywhere. His long, long struggle is a great demonstration of humanity. I have learned so much from Nelson Mandela and he has been my leader. He is a perpetual inspiration for me and millions of others around the world.''

     

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell: "Madiba's patience through imprisonment and insistence on unity over vengeance in the delicate period in which he served stand as a permanent reminder to the world of the value of perseverance and the positive influence one good man or woman can have over the course of human affairs. The world mourns this great leader. May his passing lead to a deeper commitment to reconciliation around the world."

    Philanthropists and Business Magnates Bill and Melinda Gates: It was an honor to meet President Nelson Mandela a number of times. We left each visit inspired and more optimistic about the opportunity to improve the lives of the poor throughout the world. From prisoner to president, Nelson Mandela was tireless in his pursuit of equality and justice for all people. President Mandela was a remarkable example to us, to our foundation, and to the whole world thanks to a life imbued with courage, dedication and compassion. Our thoughts and prayers are with Graca Machel and President Mandela's family. We join with the people of South Africa in grieving the loss of this extraordinary and inspirational leader.

     

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