Nelson Mandela dies at 95, leaves behind powerful legacy

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid revolutionary, died Thursday after battling a lung infection.

The former leader was 95 at the time of his death, and according to South African President Jacob Zuma, he died surrounded by loved ones.

“Our nation has lost its greatest son,” Zuma said. “Our people have lost a father. Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of the profound and enduring loss.”

In a heartfelt speech, Zuma expressed his condolences not only to Mandela’s family, but to South Africans and other supporters around the world. He said one of Mandela’s greatest qualities was his humanity. “

We saw in him what we seek in ourselves,” he said. “And in him, we saw so much of ourselves.”

To South Africans and the rest of the international community, Mandela left behind an unforgettable and truly inspiring legacy. He joined the African National Congress in 1942, where he began his fight against the Afrikaner nationalists that drove South Africa’s apartheid. He led many nonviolent protests against racist policies, including the Defiance Campaign in 1952, and co-founded a group that used guerrilla warfare against government officials.

However, Mandela’s work with ANC did not go unpunished. Officials arrested him several times before sentencing him to life in prison in 1964. He was released in 1990.

After that, the revolutionary began his movement toward a political career. He was elected as ANC president in 1991 and participated in talks to end apartheid policies. He also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. During South Africa’s first democratic and multiracial election in 1994, citizens elected Mandela as president-and Mandela himself voted for the first time in his life. He served one term and voluntarily stepped down in 1999.

Mandela continued a life of advocacy following his resignation through the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but eventually retired from public life in 2004. The icon maintained a quiet profile until he began a fight with lung disease during his final years. His condition escalated last June when he was hospitalized and eventually put on life support. However, doctors released him in September to be treated at home.

According to Zuma, Mandela will be given a state funeral. The president also asked citizens to lower all South African flags to half mast. “Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together, and it is together that we will bid him farewell,” Zuma said.

As the world mourns Mandela, it is reminded of his courage, strength and commitment to equality. Every human is mortal, but his or her legacy lives on-and no one knew that better than South Africa’s “Madiba.”

“Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace,” Mandela said during a 1994 interview. “I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.”