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nelson mandela dead.

“I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela‘s life,” Mr Obama said.

“He did it all with grace, good humour and ability to acknowledge his own imperfections only makes his achievements more remarkable.

“As long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him.”

South African president Jacob Zuma announced this morning that Mandela died on Thursday night local time.

He says their nation has lost its greatest son and flags across the nation will be lowered to half mast.

Mandela has been receiving around the clock intensive care from military and other doctors since September, when he was discharged from a stay of almost three months in hospital for a lung infection.

In a televised address, Zuma said: “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.

“What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.”

“He is now resting,” Zuma said.

Flags across the nation will be lowered to half mast, he said.

Mandela had been receiving around the clock intensive care from military and other doctors since September, when he was discharged from a nearly three month hospital stay for a lung infection.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has this morning described Mandela as one of the great figures of Africa and of the last century.

“Nelson Mandela was one of the great figures of Africa, arguably one of the great figures of the last century,” Mr Abbott told Fairfax radio.

He was the father of modern South Africa, he said.

“A truly great man.

“And while I never met him I did read that book A Long Walk To Freedom and I guess the impression we get of Nelson Mandela is someone who suffered but was not embittered but ennobled through that suffering.”

Mandela was elected South Africa’s first black president after spending nearly three decades in prison.

Mandela, once a boxer, had a long history of lung problems after contracting tuberculosis while in jail on Robben Island.

His extraordinary life story, quirky sense of humour and lack of bitterness towards his former oppressors ensured global appeal for the charismatic leader.

Once considered a terrorist by the United States and Britain for his support of violence against the apartheid regime, at the time of his death he was an almost unimpeachable moral icon.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner spent 27 years behind bars before being freed in 1990 to lead the African National Congress (ANC) in negotiations with the white minority rulers which culminated in the first multi-racial elections in 1994.

A victorious Mandela served a single term as president before taking up a new role as a roving elder statesman and leading AIDS campaigner before finally retiring from public life in 2004.

“When he emerged from prison people discovered that he was all the things they had hoped for and more,” fellow Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said.

“He is by far the most admired and revered statesperson in the world and one of the greatest human beings to walk this earth.”

He was a global cause celebre during the long apartheid years, and popular pressure led world leaders to tighten sanctions imposed on South Africa’s racist white minority regime.

In 1988 at a concert in Wembley stadium in London, tens of thousands sang “Free Nelson Mandela” as millions more watched on their television sets across the world.

Source: Radio Biafra.

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