The World loses a
guiding, bright light

Mandela “… Mandela now belongs to the ages”

President Barack Obama waves as he arrives to speak at the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Barack Obama waves as he arrives to speak at the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Nelson Mandela, a light that shown so brightly for so many, died on Dec. 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, surrounded by his family. President Jacob Zuma announced his death, he was 95 years old. On Dec. 6, President Zuma also announced a national mourning period of ten days. He declared Sunday Dec. 8, a national day of prayer and reflection. Mandela’s body lay in state from Dec. 11th to 13th at the Union Buildings in Pretoria; and a state funeral will be held on Dec.15 in Qunu, South Africa. Over 90 representatives of foreign states travelled to South Africa to attend memorial events.

“He achieved more than can be expected of any one man,” President Obama said. The president who met Mandela only once– as a senator from Illinois– praised the African leader as the symbol of the fight for freedom and dignity throughout the world. Mandela now “belongs to the ages,” Obama said at the White House within an hour of the announcement of Mandela’s death.

Mr. Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994-1999. He was the first Black South African to be elected and hold office and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his dedication to taking his country from apartheid to democracy. He was a legend in part due to his long fight against the South African government and spent 27 years in prison for his beliefs. Mandela worked tirelessly his entire life to improve the South African government and bring peace to his country.

There were statements of sympathy relayed to the Mandela family and the people of South Africa by citizens of the United States, as well as Tennessee, that included clergy, statesmen, businessmen, heads of social, civil rights and civic organizations, university presidents, and more. Below are some of those statements:

• U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.): “Visiting Nelson Mandela’s Robben Island prison cell and then reading his autobiography taught our family inspiring lessons from a remarkable life that helped to achieve a political result few imagined possible.”

• U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05): “Nelson Mandela was one of the towering giants of the 20th century. He leaves a legacy of racial healing and reconciliation.”

• Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators Chairman Larry Miller: “Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to the family of Nelson Mandela and the people of South Africa. Mr. Mandela was a true inspiration to not only his fellow countrymen, but the entire world. His instrumental role in ending apartheid and bringing true democracy to South Africa showed us all that we should never give up the fight for justice and equality.”

• Tennessee State University President Glenda Baskin Glover: “The world has truly lost an iconic figure who represented the very essence of humanitarianism,” says Dr. Glover. “Former South African President Nelson Mandela was a selfless individual who took on the role of leadership in his country long before becoming its first Black president . Mandela dedicated his life not only to dismantling apartheid in his native land, but stood against global injustice for all people…”

• Roslyn Brock, National Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors: “The Honorable Nelson Mandela embodied the hopes, dreams, aspirations and values of all who seek justice against tremendous odds. He responded to unfathomable violence with peace and courage, and in doing so he forever changed the world.”

• Dr. David Emmanuel Goatley, National Chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the NAACP Board of Directors: “Nelson Mandela’s legacy remains an inspiration for the work of the NAACP. In Mandela’s name we must continue to bring attention to all aspects of global apartheid characterized by poverty, inequality, discrimination, and prejudice of all kind.”

• Bill Lucy, member of the NAACP National Board of Directors and labor leader: “The world has lost one of the great statesmen of our time … His loss should set an example for political leaders still here, that there is a need to lead and govern in a manner that is equitable to all people.”

• Lorraine Miller, National Interim NAACP President and CEO: “President Mandela was humanity’s greatest living hero. His unwavering sense of justice and peace transformed a nation and inspired the world.”

• Pastor Creflo Dollar: “To all of our partners in South Africa, today we lost a great man. But we really didn’t lose him, because we know that to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord … ”

• Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori: “The people of The Episcopal Church join the world in mourning the death of Nelson Mandela, prophet and witness to justice. His leadership spanned decades, before and during imprisonment on Robben Island, and continuing into the establishment of a nation that aspires to serve the freedom and dignity of all human beings…”

• Bishop T.D. Jakes: “I am deeply saddened to have lost such an enduring symbol of freedom and liberty; Nelson Mandela was an elder statesman who embodied the very essence of a servant-leader. History cannot contain the lasting impact of such an extraordinary life … There are few words capable of encapsulating the measure of such a masterful life, except to impart this departing dispatch: “Well done Madiba, well done!”

• Bernice A. King, chief executive officer of the King Center: “I join with people of all races worldwide in mourning the death of this great lion of African liberation, but celebrating his magnificent life of service to the cause of freedom, human rights and justice for all humanity. Nelson Mandela’s life and leadership exemplified the highest courage, dignity and dedication to human liberation. His name will always resonate in my heart, as it does in the hearts of millions of people all over the world. His death marks the end of an era, when leaders of unsurpassed courage and integrity walked among us.”

• NNPA Chairman Cloves C. Campbell: “The entire world has lost a true legend with the passing of President Nelson Mandela. His life-long fight against injustice, hate and inequality will remain as a reminder that, if there is no struggle, there is no progress …

• Lawyers’ Committee for Civil ights Under Law: “The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Mandela, who focused on dismantling apartheid by addressing issues such as racism, poverty and inequality. One of my greatest honors is to live during the same time that Mandela walked this earth; men like him only come once in a lifetime,” said Lawyers’ Committee President and Executive Director Barbara R. Arnwine. The Lawyers’ Committee extends our deepest condolences to his wife Graca Machel, and to his children, grandchildren and host of other relatives and friends.”

• The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF): “Together in solidarity, we stand with our brothers and sisters around the world, to pay honor and respect to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela aka Madiba … let us be reminded of one of his most famous quotes, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world, ’ ” said, Johnny C. Taylor Jr., President & CEO.

• Race Forward President Rinku Sen: “Nelson Mandela’s death constitutes the enormous loss of a great man who deserves his rest. We were lucky to have him on this earth at this time, and his lessons of struggle, confrontation and love will never leave us.”

• John Smith of John Smith Marketing: “People everywhere especially people of color respect the name Mandela. He is a inspiration to all of us … From prison to president.. God Bless his soul.”

• DNC Blog: The life, legacy and lessons of Nelson Mandela by Donna Brazile, DNC Vice Chair: “… Let us dedicate ourselves to remembering his lessons and continue his efforts to spread Democracy, freedom and equality across the globe… He showed us that it was possible to create lasting change, peace and stability even in the most formidable circumstances. He was an advocate for the downtrodden …” President Obama and the First Lady said it best, “Nelson Mandela’s personal story is one of unbreakable will, unwavering integrity and abiding humility.” He has, “changed the arc of history, transforming his country, continent and the world… Madiba, today and forever, we will remember you — and your legacy will live on.”

Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in the village of Mvezo in Umtatu, then a part of South Africa’s Cape Province. She was given the forename Rolihlahla, a Xhosa term colloquially meaning “troublemaker”. In later years he became known by his clan name, Madiba. His patrilineal great-grandfather, Ngubengcuka, was ruler of the Thembu people in the Transkeian Territories of South Africa’s modern Eastern Cape province. One of this king’s sons, named Mandela, became Nelson’s grandfather and the source of his surname. His father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, was a local chief and councillor to the monarch

Nelson’s mother was Gadla’s third wife, Nosekeni Fanny, who was daughter of Nkedama of the Right Hand House and a member of the amaMpemvu clan of Xhosa.

Both his parents were illiterate, but being a devout Christian, his mother sent him to a local Methodist school when he was about seven. Baptised a Methodist, Mandela was given the English forename of “Nelson” by his teacher.

Christianity became a significant part of his life. He attended a Methodist mission school, studying English, Xhosa, history and geography. He developed a love of African history.

Mr. Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994-1999. He was the first Black South African to be elected and hold office and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his dedication to taking his country from apartheid to democracy. He was a legend in part due to his long fight against the South African government and spent 27 years in prison for his beliefs. Mandela worked tirelessly his entire life to improve the South African government and bring peace to his country.

A. Barry Rand, CEO, AARP, stated that Mandela also leaves the world a legacy that will largely go unnoticed. “He has taught us all how to live with independence, dignity and purpose as we get older. After being released from prison at the age of 72, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Soviet Order of Lenin at the age of 75. At 76, he was elected President of South Africa serving a five-year term. He spent the rest of his life fighting to eradicate poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation while continuing to speak out for social justice and human rights,” said Rand.