NELSON Mandela has died.
In the 1950s and 60s, Mr Mandela fought against the South African government’s apartheid system, which divided the nation and supressed the rights of black South Africans.
From 1962, he spent 27 years in prison for his role in the violent stuggle and emerged in 1991 to negotiate the end of apartheid and the first ever fully inclusive election in the nation, which he won in 1994 as leader of the African National Congress.
Mr Mandela served as president of South Africa until 1999.
He passed away in his Johannesburg home yesterday after a long illness.
Governor-General Quentin Bryce has issued a statement of condolences:
“Nelson Mandela’s death brings great sadness to the world. No person in our lifetime has been more admired and respected.
“He inspired us all by his leadership and enduring commitment to the recognition of the worth of every human being.
“The freedom and reconciliation that followed years of injustice and struggle will continue to capture the imagination of people everywhere.
“I remember well my last meeting with Mr Mandela, as Governor-General, in Johannesburg in March 2009. His wisdom and dignity shone through, as always. So too, the twinkling sense of humour etched on his face.
“The outpouring of love from his people in these past months has been deeply touching.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr Mandela’s family and the people of South Africa at this time of sorrow and mourning.”World Vision Australia chief executive Tim Costello also paid trubute to Mr Mandela, for his humanitarian work.
“This man’s ability to forgive, and to reach out to whites after decades of black oppression was a miracle in our lifetime,” Mr Costello said.
“Nelson Mandela is one the twentieth century’s great symbols of hope.
“It was a tribute to Mandela’s depth of character that he turned a barbarous prison into a school room where he taught other prisoners. He showed the darkest place, depending on your response, can be a place of light and learning.”