Nelson Mandela, the beloved South African leader who helped bring an end to apartheid and became his nation’s first black President, died today at the age of 95.
Mandela had been suffering from a lung infection which he contracted in his younger years and had plagued him till his death. His friends and family were at his bedside when he passed away, according to reports.
President Zuma announced Nelson Mandela’s death, addressing the nation in a television broadcast:
“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.”
During his life, Nelson Mandela was an icon in South Africa’s struggle against apartheid. He was imprisoned for 27 years in an eight foot by seven foot cell and slept on a straw mat. He was finally released from prison by then President F.W. de Klerk in 1990.
He became the proud president of the ANC in the year following his release from jail and then became the president of South Africa in 1994.
Mandela handled the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa during his five years as President and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 as recognition of his work.
He is survived by his wife Graça Machel, six children, and an impressive 17 grandchildren.