Newspaper review: Nelson Mandela tributes in UK press

As people across the world digest the news of Nelson Mandela's death, the British media has been reflecting on the life of Africa's most famous son.

South African President Jacob Zuma's press conference happened in time to meet papers' later edition deadlines, with most dedicating their entire front pages to photographs of Mr Mandela.

In domestic news

The papers' take on the autumn statement and coverage of the storms in our newspaper review.

The Sun's final edition includes a 12-page tribute, while the Times offers a 16-page pullout with features about his life in prison, his brushes with celebrity and South Africa's first all-race elections. It also prints the text of his speech during his 1964 trial on sabotage charges.

Other papers offer expanded coverage via their websites. Mr Mandela's life - as the "architect of South Africa's transformation from racial despotism to liberal democracy" - is charted in a seven-part obituary in the Daily Telegraph.

To Paul Vallely, in the Independent: "He was a model of faith, hope and charity. There was about him something to which the world aspired. It was as if we saw ourselves dimly reflected in his glory."

Meanwhile, the Guardian's interactive timeline invites readers to explore key events in the life of "Madiba" by clicking through some of the most striking images taken of the former African National Congress leader.

Noting how the name Mr Mandela was given at birth - Rolihlahla - has the tribal meaning "one who brings trouble upon himself", the Daily Mirror says: "History will record that Nelson was a heroic troublemaker all of his life, right until the final years when his eyes would still twinkle and that unabashed laugh would ring out."

Meanwhile, Ahmed Kathrada - the man with whom he shared a Robben Island prison cell - writes in the Times about "Madiba - the inspiration I knew in jail."

Remembering Madiba - ways the papers mark his passing

Composite image featuring a sign reading "RIP Madiba", Mr Mandela on stage with Stevie Wonder in 1998, and at a concert in Wembley in 1990
  • Through his greatest speeches and letters - Daily Mirror
  • In the words of readers - Guardian
  • Noting the pop songs and stars he inspired - Times
  • Via a poem by his successor as president - Independent
  • Through his attitude to sport - Daily Mail

Richard Stengal, who co-wrote his memoir The Long Walk to Freedom, offers a personal perspective in the Daily Mail, remembering Mr Mandela ticking him off about his clothes.

Start Quote

He made us feel good, and warm, and safe, because he found a way to play an ideal father, beyond the confines of his biological family or even his national one”

End Quote Mark Gevisser Mail & Guardian, South Africa

"He knew that appearances matter," notes Stengel, before explaining Mr Mandela's zeal for bright tops: "The shirts symbolised a new kind of power — African, indigenous, confident. The shirts were a statement: No longer does an African leader need to dress in a Western style to seem substantial."

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, writing in the Independent, remembers Mr Mandela visiting a mosque, synagogue and inter-denominational service on successive days after his election as president: "The spirit of tolerance is now enshrined in the custom that parliament starts each day with a period of quiet to allow each person to use as is consistent with his or her faith, or lack of it. It replaces the way things were done in the old, all-white Parliament when Christian prayers were the order of the day."

Others note that Mr Mandela was not without flaws. David Blair, in the Daily Telegraph, says that - once in government - Mr Mandela filled his ministerial cabinet with "time-servers and incompetents" and failed to stop the rampant spread of Aids. With a focus on nation-building rather than policy-making, he adds: "As chief executive of South Africa's government, he was largely a failure."

Journalist and historian Max Hastings writes in the Daily Mail that Mr Mandela "showed himself a weak executive ruler, failing to deploy his unique influence and indeed power as he might have done". But he adds: "To say this is probably to ask too much of any mortal man, whose achievement was anyway remarkable."

In the Times, Peter Brookes's cartoon gives Mr Mandela a fitting send-off. Titled "Release", it features the former leader saluting as he passes through heaven's gates.

How global TV stations reported the news of Nelson Mandela's death

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.