The world reacts to Nelson Mandela's death - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

The world reacts to Nelson Mandela's death

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A statue of Nelson Mandela stands outside the South African embassy in Washington, DC. (Source: CNN) A statue of Nelson Mandela stands outside the South African embassy in Washington, DC. (Source: CNN)
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(RNN) – World leaders, dignitaries, celebrities and admirers from around the world are expressing their sadness on the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday.

South African President Jacob Zuma

"Fellow South Africans, our beloved Nelson Mandela, the founding president of our democratic nation, has departed. He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 20:50 on the 5th of December, 2013. He is now resting. He is now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. Although we knew this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss. We will always love you Madiba, may your soul rest in peace. Nelson Mandela brought us together and it is together that we will bid him farewell. Our beloved Madiba will be accorded a state funeral. I've ordered that all flags of the republic of South Africa be lowered to half mast from tomorrow Dec. 6. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family. To them we owe a debt of gratitude. They have sacrificed and endured much so much so that our people could be free."

President Barack Obama

"We have lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with. He no longer belongs to us - he belongs to the ages. Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, Madiba transformed South Africa and moved all of us. His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings and countries can change for the better. His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to, whether in the lives of nations or our own personal lives. And the fact that he did it all with grace and good humor and an ability to acknowledge his own imperfections only makes the man more remarkable. His life's work meant long days away from those who loved him most, and I only hope that the time spent with him these last few weeks brought peace and comfort to his family. To the people of South Africa, we draw strength from the example of renewal and reconciliation and resilience that you made real. A free South Africa, at peace with itself. That's an example to the world. And that's my deepest legacy to the nation that he loved. We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again, so it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set. To make decisions guided not by hate, but by love. To never discount the difference that one person can make. To strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice. For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived. A man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice. May God bless his memory and keep him in peace."

A full statement can be read here.

Former President George H.W. Bush

"Barbara and I mourn the passing of one of the greatest believers in freedom we have had the privilege to know. As President, I watched in wonder as Nelson Mandela had the remarkable capacity to forgive his jailers following 26 years of wrongful imprisonment -- setting a powerful example of redemption and grace for us all. He was a man of tremendous moral courage, who changed the course of history in his country. Barbara and I had great respect for President Mandela, and send our condolences to his family and countrymen."

Former President Bill Clinton, via Twitter

"I will never forget my friend Madiba."

Chelsea Clinton, via Twitter

"My thoughts and prayers are with Graça Machel & the Mandela family. We are all the richer for Madiba's extraordinary life."

Former President George W. Bush

"Laura and I join the people of South Africa and the world in celebrating the life of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. President Mandela was one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our time. He bore his burdens with dignity and grace, and our world is better off because of his example. This good man will be missed, but his contributions will live on forever. Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathy to President Mandela's family and to the citizens of the nation he loved."

Former President Jimmy Carter

"Rosalynn and I are deeply saddened by the death of Nelson Mandela. The people of South Africa and human rights advocates around the world have lost a great leader. His passion for freedom and justice created new hope for generations of oppressed people worldwide, and because of him, South Africa is today one of the world's leading democracies. In recent years, I was gratified to be able to work with him through The Elders to encourage resolution of conflicts and advance social justice and human rights in many nations. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family at this difficult time."

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

"I am profoundly saddened by the passing of Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela was a giant for justice and a down to earth human inspiration. Many around the world are quickly influenced by his selfless struggle for human dignity, equality, and freedom. He touched our lives in deeply personal ways. "

British Prime Minister David Cameron, via Twitter

"A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time. I've asked for the flag at No. 10 to be flown at half mast."

Actor Idris Elba, who portrayed Mandela in the film ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,' via Facebook

"What an honor it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."

The Weinstein Company Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein on Nelson Mandela's passing, via Facebook

"One of the privileges of making movies is having the opportunity to immortalize those who have made a profound impact on humanity. We count ourselves unspeakably fortunate to have been immersed in Nelson Mandela's story and legacy. It's been an honor to have been granted such proximity to a man who will go down as one of history's greatest freedom fighters and advocates for justice. I have had the privilege of spending time with President Mandela and I can say his sense of humor was as great as his optimism. We are deeply saddened by his loss; our hearts go out to his family and the entire South African nation."

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