As it happened: Reaction to Nelson Mandela's death

Key Points

  • President Jacob Zuma announced that Nelson Mandela had died at the age of 95
  • Mandela was elected South Africa's first black president after he spent 27 years in prison
  • He was the figurehead for the struggle against the apartheid regime for decades, winning the Nobel peace prize
  • He had been suffering from a lung infection but left hospital in September to spend his remaining days at the family home near Johannesburg
  • World leaders paid tribute, including President Obama who said Nelson Mandela embodied the "promise of change for the better"
  • All times in GMT

    In the past few minutes, South African President Jacob Zuma has announced the death of Nelson Mandela, saying the nation had lost its greatest son.


    Mr Mandela, who was 95, had been suffering from a recurrence of a lung infection. He was admitted to hospital three times this year but since September he had been receiving treatment at his home in Johannesburg.


    President Zuma said: "Our people have lost their father. Although we knew this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of profound and enduring loss."


    Mr Zuma said Nelson Mandela would be accorded a state funeral.


    "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family," Mr Zuma said.

    2210: Gabriel Gatehouse BBC News, Johannesburg

    Nelson Mandela's body will be moved to a mortuary in Pretoria, and the state funeral is expected to take place next Saturday.


    All flags in South Africa will be lowered to half-mast and will remain like that until after Mr Mandela's funeral, President Zuma announced.


    Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black president after a long fight against white minority rule. The BBC looks at his life in pictures


    World leaders past and present have been paying tribute to Nelson Mandela. UK Prime Minister David Cameron said "a great light has gone out in the world".


    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Mandela was "a source of inspiration" for the world.


    Read the full statement by South African President Jacob Zuma


    US President Barack Obama said: "I'm one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela."

    US Republican senator John McCain

    tweets: RIP Nelson Mandela, whose courage and character inspired South Africa and the world.


    President Obama said Nelson Mandela's journey embodied the promise that human beings and countries can change for the better, and said he personally had been inspired by him.


    The African National Congress (ANC) said South Africa had lost "a colossus, an epitome of humility, equality, justice, peace and hope of millions".


    The BBC's Africa correspondent Andrew Harding talks to some of Nelson Mandela's friends, comrades, relatives and opponents for his blog post Remembering the Man


    Presidential historian Michael Beschloss tweets: "A handwritten draft page from Nelson Mandela's memoirs."

    handwritten memoirs of Nelson Mandela
    President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy

    tweets: Nelson #Mandela - one of the greatest political figures of our times. Let's honour his memory by collective commitment to democracy

    Head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso

    tweets: #Mandela changed course of history for his people, country, continent & the world. My thoughts are w/his family & people of #SouthAfrica/JMB


    Billionaire philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates said: "From prisoner to president, Nelson Mandela was tireless in his pursuit of equality and justice for all people."

    Apollo 11 Nasa astronaut Buzz Aldrin

    tweets: Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela. A true inspiration & role model for peace & international collaboration. We will continue to learn from him.


    Former US President Bill Clinton said in a statement: "Today the world has lost one of its most important leaders and one of its finest human beings... All of us are living in a better world because of the life that Madiba lived."


    Read more about how Mandela's experiences of racism as a youth inspired him to build the ANC into a major political movement Mandela: The man who destroyed apartheid


    There has been an outpouring of grief around on the world at news of the passing of Nelson Mandela.

    2256: Olufummin Adams from Liberia

    emails: This is one of the saddest days in my life as we Africans have lost a beacon of light in a wilderness of poverty, corruption and despair.

    2257: Justin Mwape from Zambia

    emails: I was one of the lucky people who lined the streets of Lusaka in 1990 to catch a glimpse of him upon release from prison. What an inspiration. Nelson Mandela embraced the whole world as a symbol of courage, hope and reconciliation.


    Author Keith Boykin tweets a photo of how the Apollo Theatre, a landmark site in New York City's Harlem neighbourhood, is remembering Mandela:

    Apollo Theatre in New York

    Nelson Mandela's friend George Bizos tells the BBC World Service: "None of us are immortal, this was expected… but it's really difficult for me to come to come to terms with."


    Nelson Mandela's daughter, Zindzi, is seen in London this evening, attending the UK premiere of a film about his life.

    Zindzi Mandela at premiere in London (5 Dec 2013)
    2303: Linda Kirkland

    emails: Mandela symbolised peace, reconciliation, tolerance, wisdom, selflessness. He led our country through perilous times. God help South Africa now that he has gone. Few can live up to this man.

    IMF head Christine Lagarde

    tweets: Deeply saddened by the passing of #Mandela, a courageous, visionary leader who will always be remembered and will continue to inspire us all.


    Former US President Jimmy Carter says Mandela's "passion for freedom and justice created new hope for generations of oppressed people worldwide". Read more tributes from world leaders here

    2306: Estelle Snyders from Cape Town, South Africa

    emails: Rest well, Tata. We owe you an incalculable debt of gratitude. Thank you for your graciousness, generosity of spirit and love for us. We have lost a father.


    US actor Morgan Freeman, who portrayed Mandela in a 2009 film, describes him as "a saint to many, a hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind. Madiba may no longer be with us, but his journey continues on with all of us".

    The scene outside South Africa House in London The scene outside South Africa House in London

    "My heart weighs heavy about his transition," says Civil rights activist Rev Jesse Jackson in an appreciation of the anti-apartheid campaigner's life in the UK's Guardian newspaper.


    The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is live streaming its coverage on YouTube


    Archbishop Desmond Tutu honours Mandela in a guest column at AllAfrica: "He was not only an amazing gift to humankind, he made South Africans and Africans feel good about being who we are. He made us walk tall. God be praised."

    Friday's edition of the Mercury newspaper in South Africa

    Lauren Kate Rawlins, a journalist on The Mercury newspaper in South Africa, tweets this picture of tomorrow's edition.


    Former South African President FW De Klerk tells the BBC: "I think Mandela's greatest legacy and influence on the South African nation is that we are basically at peace with each other, not withstanding our great diversity... His greatest legacy is that he was a unifier, and that he successfully broke the bridge between the conflict of the past and the peace of today."


    FW De Klerk was the South African president who brokered the end of apartheid, and released Mandela. The two men jointly won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993.

    Actress Charlize Theron who has dual US and South African nationality

    tweets: My thoughts and love go out to the Mandela family. Rest in Peace Madiba. You will be missed, but your impact on this world will live forever.


    The New York Times headlines its coverage: "Mandela's Death Leaves South Africa Without Its Moral Center"


    In 2002, the BBC's David Dimbleby interviewed Nelson Mandela several times for a two-part portrait. Listen to parts of those interviews and Nelson Mandela in his own words


    The BBC's Milton Nkosi says a crowd has gathered outside the house where Nelson Mandela died. He says "some are wearing ANC t-shirts… flying South African flags".

    2333: South African cricketer AB de Villiers

    tweets: Let us now, more than ever, stick together as a nation! We owe him that much. #Madiba you will be missed! #inspiration #leader


    World football body Fifa has ordered all flags at half-mast. Fifa president Sepp Blatter said: "When Mandela was honoured and cheered by the crowd at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium on 11 July 2010, it was as a man of the people, a man of their hearts, and it was one of the most moving moments I have ever experienced."


    BBC World Service listeners have been reacting to the death of Nelson Mandela on the BBC World Service Facebook page. Fatsani Makileni in Malawi says Mandela was an "icon to current leaders, if all of them were like Mandela, Africa could have been an amazing story to talk about every day".


    South Africans gather to honour Mandela in Johannesburg

    South Africans react as they pay tribute to former South African president Nelson Mandela following his death in Johannesburg 5 December 2013
    2339: David Hodgson in the UK

    emails: I met Nelson Mandela in 2001 when he signed his book for me. He was so good and kind. Tonight I was at the Mandela premiere where I met his two daughters and they signed the book as well. We will all miss him. There was no-one like him.


    Idris Elba, the British actor who plays the lead in the new biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, said: "What an honour 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."

    Idris Elba, London (5 Dec 2013)

    In 1994, Nelson Mandela was sworn in as South Africa's first black president. Watch that moment in history here.


    US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said: "Today, an eloquent voice has been silenced, a beautiful mind stilled, and a bountiful heart stopped. The epic soul of Nelson Mandela is now at rest."

    2345: Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama

    tweets: Nelson #Mandela served his nation & Africa well. We have lost an icon in the liberation struggle & an illustrious son of our continent


    The New Yorker magazine has released a picture of its next front cover, featuring a young Nelson Mandela by artist Kadir Nelson.

    The New Yorker

    Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff has said Nelson Mandela was one of the greatest figures of the 20th Century, and "conducted with passion and intelligence one of the most important processes of emancipation in contemporary human history - the end of apartheid in South Africa".

    Mike Wooldridge World Affairs correspondent

    is outside the Mandela home. He says his death "may, in the short term, unite South Africa in ways that have never been seen before".


    @BBCNewsUS tweets: "Photo of US President #Obama & Nelson #Mandela - courtesy of photographer David Katz"

    Then-Senator Obama meets Nelson Mandela in 2005 Then-Senator Obama meets Nelson Mandela in 2005
    The BBC's royal correspondent Peter Hunt

    tweets: Prince William calls Nelson Mandela "an extraordinary and inspiring man. This is extremely sad and tragic news". #Mandela

    Mike Wooldridge World Affairs correspondent

    "The sentiments expressed by well-wishers of all races and backgrounds outside the hospital in Pretoria as he lay critically ill for nearly three months - the wall of deeply personal messages, the paintings, the choirs who came from across the country to sing for Mr Mandela - were a reminder of his unifying influence."


    More from that BBC interview with FW De Klerk (see 2323): "I've become good friends with the late Nelson Mandela. We had out moments of tension and were political opponents. But after our retirement and at times during his presidency, we became very close.


    Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright tweets: "Nelson Mandela taught us all that forgiveness is stronger than hate. The best way to honour his passing is to follow his example."


    "Music in general is part of our South African culture and it's also part of what got us through the struggle," said hip hop artist Bambatha Mandela, Mandela's grandson, earlier this year. Read more about the role music played in the anti-apartheid movement.

    0010: Tshifaro from Coventry, England

    emails: Thanks to Mandela I was able to cast a vote for the first time in a democratic process in 1994. We queued for hours in long winding lines from very early in the morning, knowing that for the first time our votes would shape the future of our country. Since my first vote I have voted in more elections in the UK than in South Africa. Many things are now taken for granted, including voting. Mandela fought for our freedom and long live his legacy. RIP


    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were attending the UK premiere of a film about Mandela's life in London this evening. See their tribute to him here.


    BBC world affairs producer Stuart Hughes tweets: "As @peterbiles notes, in the 1980s it was illegal in SA to publish pics of #Mandela. This from Who's Who 1986."

    Photo of 1986 Who's Who in South Africa

    Mandela's friend and biographer Anthony Sampson recalls in our profile piece that he thought the future leader seemed like "a bit of a showman" in the 1950s. He adds: "I didn't take him seriously enough."

    0013: Matthew Bull from New York

    emails: I had the pleasure and awe-inspiring experience of meeting and having tea with Madiba. Most importantly, he gave us our dignity back as white South Africans with his courage, his resilience, his empathy, his brilliance, his vision. We owe it to him to live by his values and to uphold his legacy. No matter where we are.

    0014: Official White House photographer Pete Souza
    President Barack Obama watches the TV news coverage of Nelson Mandela's death

    tweets a photo of President Barack Obama watching the TV news coverage of Nelson Mandela's death.


    Leaders in Latin America have shared their tributes on Twitter: "His legacy remains our guidance to reach peace" says Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

    Brazil President Dilma Rousseff says: " Mandela's example will guide all who fight for social justice and for peace in the world."


    What if Mandela's life was told through social media? A video from the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory shares his journey in a unique way.


    In Australia it is already Friday morning, and cricket players at the Second Ashes Test Match between Australia and England held a moment of silence to honour Nelson Mandela.

    England observe a minutes silence in memory of former South African President Nelson Mandela ahead of day two of the Second Ashes Test Match between Australia and England at Adelaide Oval on 6 December 2013 in Adelaide, Australia.
    0019: Claire Moran from England

    emails: I am a white South African who grew up in SA in the apartheid era but never supported apartheid. I spent so many decades being ashamed of being South African. Nelson Mandela was the only person, the only thing, that made me feel proud to be South African. The world felt a better place with him in it.


    Rev Jesse Jackson tells the BBC World Service it "hurts to think that Nelson Mandela is gone". But, he says, he was "a global icon".

    "He chose reconciliation over retribution… he laid the groundwork for a new South Africa. "


    Archbishop Tutu, who earlier (see 2320) paid tribute to Mandela, still has a house on the same Soweto street that Mandela once lived on. Vilakazi Street - the only street in the world to have housed two Nobel Peace Prize winners.

    0022: Peter Brown from Los Angeles

    emails: It was my honour to help organize Madiba's first visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. I met and talked with him before he faced the politicians and press. I was moved to tears when he insisted in struggling to his feet - against my protests that he should save his energy - with the statement "Young man, I will always stand for anyone who has done anything for me, big or small". I was speechless and settled for a big bear hug from the man.

    0023: Former South Africa football captain Steven Pienaar

    Steven Pienaar captained South Africa when the country hosted the World Cup in 2010. He tweets: Still can't believe it, Madiba is gone.


    In a statement boxing legend Muhammad Ali said Nelson Mandela "taught us forgiveness on a grand scale".

    "I am deeply saddened by the passing of Mr Mandela. His was a life filled with purpose and hope; hope for himself, his country and the world."


    History is often portrayed in terms of great men, wars and pivotal moments. But South Africa's fight for peace was long and slow, and lasted long after apartheid fell. For years, victims of brutality heard their oppressors confess to crimes at local tribunals under the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.


    Ben Dreyfuss, engagement editor at American magazine Mother Jones, tweets this infographic of streets, highways and bridges named after Nelson Mandela.

    0033: Rebecca Kesby BBC World Service

    in Cape Town says there is "a profound sense of shock" even though everyone knew he was gravely ill. The police say they are expecting massive crowds later at the City Hall, where Mandela made his first public speech after his release from prison in 1990.

    0034: Noor Al Hussein, the widow of King Hussein the late King of Jordan

    tweets: Rest in Peace dearest Mandiba #NelsonMandela


    British newspapers are paying tribute to Mandela on Friday's front pages, which you can see in our slideshow.

    0039: Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson

    tweets: Nelson Mandela was the embodiment of discipline, courage, love and forgiveness. "There is no future without forgiveness"-@NelsonMandela


    Ela Gandhi, the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, tells the BBC: "It is difficult for me to speak right now because I am so overcome with grief and emptiness... For me [Mandela] was really a wonderful hero and idol that I really felt that humanity should emulate, should follow."


    People gather at Madiba South African restaurant in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, following the announcement of andela's death.

    Patrons gather at the Madiba South African restaurant following the announcement of the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela  in the Brooklyn borough of New York, United States 5 December 2013

    It's impossible for people who weren't there to appreciate the horror of the apartheid regime. The BBC's archive collects a vast amount of material to explain that period in South Africa's history.

    0049: David Beckham

    Former England captain David Beckham met Nelson Mandela in 2003. He posts on Facebook: My heart goes out to the people in South Africa and Mr Mandela's family. We have lost a true gentleman and a courageous human being. It was truly an honour to have known a man who had genuine love for so many people. Rest in peace.

    0052: Colin Forsyth from Sherborne in England

    emails: I was a chauffeur assigned to Buckingham Palace to assist with driving duties when President Mandela was on a state visit. The crowds flocked to see him. In all of my experiences of state visits, he was the only person who asked to meet the chauffeurs and shake our hands with gracious thanks for the work we were doing.


    To put Ela Gandhi's tribute (0041) in context, the great Indian resistance hero Mahatma Gandhi spent time in South Africa in the early 20th Century. He fought for the rights of the Asian minority. Like Mandela, he was jailed. Ela Gandhi is South African and was an MP there until 2004.


    US President Barack Obama has ordered flags at half-mast on all US public buildings until sunset on 9 December in honour of Mandela.


    On BBC World News, Richard Dowden of the Royal Africa Society says Mandela learned Afrikaans in prison in order to get through to a brutal, racist guard boss with conversation about rugby.


    Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair recalls on BBC World Service when Nelson Mandela visited Downing Street. "He would talk to the people on the door, to the people making the tea. He had an incredible way about him. It wasn't just what he did, it was the way that he did it."

    US First Lady Michelle Obama

    tweets from the First Lady of the United States account: We will forever draw strength and inspiration from Nelson Mandela's extraordinary example of moral courage, kindness, and humility.


    We've had a lot on Mandela's history, but his contribution continues to be felt in world affairs. The Elders, a group of senior statesman campaigning for peace, was founded by him. They released a statement saying they would "endeavour to honour his memory in their work".

    0119: Milton Nkosi BBC News, Johannesburg

    says the crowds are singing the same songs they sang during Mandela's time in jail, urging the authorities to free him.


    Here is Mandela with the rest of the globetrotting diplomat group the Elders (see 0116):

    Mandela and the Elders

    South African Matthew Bull met Nelson Mandela in 1997. He told BBC World Service: "You felt as though you could talk to him about anything. We spent 10 minutes talking about my kids - and blueberry tart."

    Mark Mardell North America editor

    has written a blog on the worldwide reaction to Mandela's passing: "For many, Mandela is the closest the world has to a secular saint. Over the next few days we will see his canonisation, and there will be very few who will want to play the part of devil's advocate."


    In London, Lungi Morrison, the granddaughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, sings after lighting a candle for Nelson Mandela outside the South African High Commission:

    Lungi Morrison, the granddaughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, sings after lighting a candle for Nelson Mandela outside the South African High Commission in London 5 December 2013
    South African Rugby Union player Jon-Paul Pietersen

    tweets: Rest in Peace Nelson Tata Madiba, our hero. You will forever live in our hearts. My deepest condolences to the Mandela family.


    Hollywood star and director Clint Eastwood, who directed a biopic about the former South Africa leader, says in a statement that it is impossible to sum up Mandela's impact: "I will never forget the day I met him and experienced first-hand his indomitable spirit and warm, charismatic smile. What he went through and what he accomplished will never be forgotten."


    Readers have been posting tributes on the BBC Arabic Facebook page. Sham Shetos in Sudan says: "Mandela changed the way the whole world viewed Africa." Mao Ashraf in Egypt says: "He taught me that inner peace and purity can help you accomplish the impossible".

    Former US President George W Bush

    posts on Facebook: "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."


    As Asia wakes up to the news of Mandela's death, officials have begun to given their reaction. Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa called him a "man of honour and principle, a towering figure against the heinous policy of apartheid whose struggles served as a rallying call the world over against racialism, colonialism and other forms of injustice".


    For those of you just joining us, President Jacob Zuma announced the death of Nelson Mandela late on Thursday. Tributes have been pouring in from world leaders, celebrities, sports stars and members of the public.

    South African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo

    posts on Facebook: Our most memorable moment was in 1993 when Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Madiba asked us to join him on his trip to receive the award in Norway, to sing and to represent our nation. He would say to us that we are South Africa's "Cultural Ambassadors" to the world. We took this honour very seriously.

    Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

    tweets: A giant among men has passed away. This is as much India's loss as South Africa's. He was a true Gandhian.


    South Africa's reconciliation process, led by Mandela, was witness to some extraordinary stories, none more so than told by activist Frank Chikane, who revealed in 2006 that apartheid-era minister Adriaan Vlok had washed his feet as a gesture of contrition.

    Anthony Zurcher Editor, Echo Chambers

    has a round-up from around the world on Mandela's legacy for South African and beyond.


    "It's an enormous loss," the ANC's Susan de Villiers tells the BBC World Service. "He propped us all up. People are very dependent on him, on his spirit and his example."

    The world's number One golfer Tiger Woods

    tweets: Pop & I felt your aura when we met, I feel it today & I will feel it forever. You have done so much for humanity.


    Lulekwa Ingcwabe said he couldn't sleep after learning of the death of Nelson Mandela. Instead he joined the crowds who gathered in Johannesburg to "salute my lifetime hero".

    People in Johannesburg gather together after learning of Nelson Mandela's death
    Elly Omondi Odhiambo from Belfast

    emails: I saw Mandela for the first time in 1996 when he delivered a great speech in London's Trafalgar Square. The entire place was so packed I had to follow up with another Mandela event at Brixton. Some people followed him everywhere on this great visit. I am proud to say I was one of them, hopping from one train to another just to catch a glimpse and hear his gentle voice and persuasive presence. A great man will always be a great man.


    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced that there will be three days of mourning in the country in honour of Mr Mandela.


    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei has said Mr Mandela "is not only regarded as the 'father of the nation' by the South African people, but is also revered and loved by people from all over the world". He said Mr Mandela "is an old friend of the Chinese people".

    New Zealand Prime Minister John Key

    tweets: Nelson Mandela was inspirational. On behalf of NZ I'd like to express my sincere condolences to his family and all South Africans.

    Artist Yoko Ono

    tweets: Thank you Nelson Mandela for your highest standard of commitment to Peace in our World. We are so lucky to have been on this planet with you.

    Fergal Keane BBC News

    writes that Mr Mandela's facial expressions often revealed more than his words: "On the day that he separated from Winnie Mandela, I interviewed him at ANC headquarters. I have no recollection of what he said but the expression of pure loneliness on his face is one I will always remember."


    Chinese President Xi Jinping has expressed his condolences to Mr Mandela's relatives. He described Mr Mandela, who visited China twice during his lifetime, as one of the founders of Sino-South African relations.


    Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has paid tribute: "While I never met him... the impression we get of Nelson Mandela is someone who suffered but was not embittered but ennobled through that suffering."


    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls Mr Mandela a great leader who "put national reconciliation at the centre of his nation-building".


    Mandela's death has generated massive discussion on Chinese microblogs, with #Mandela's death# becoming the second-most-discussed topic on Sina Weibo. Property tycoon Ren Zhiqiang writes: "Mandela has gone, but his life had repercussions on different countries across the world. This is because Mandela's life is a symbol of pursuing freedom, fairness and peaceful co-existence."


    On ABC News, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser recalls meeting Mr Mandela in Robben Island prison: "I can remember on one occasion he held up a blanket, and you could see through the blanket."


    This was the scene earlier outside Nelson Mandela's former home, now a museum, in South Africa's Soweto township, as people gathered to mourn.

    People outside former Mandela home in Soweto (6 Dec 2013)

    The Times newspaper in the UK has published a moving cartoon by Peter Brookes, depicting Nelson Mandela arriving at the gates of Heaven. The caption is one simple word: Release.

    Prominent India businessman Ratan Tata

    tweets: The world has lost a great leader. Nelson Mandela was the father of a free South Africa where all people had equal rights. He will be missed.

    Brazilian footballing legend Pele

    tweeted earlier: He was my hero, my friend, and also a companion to me in our fight for the people and for world peace.


    If you are just joining us, welcome to our live coverage of events and reaction following the death of South African anti-apartheid hero, Nelson Mandela. He died on Thursday evening, shortly before 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT) at his family home in Johannesburg.


    His death was announced by current President Jacob Zuma. He said South Africa "has lost its greatest son; our people have lost a father". You can watch his statement again on the BBC website.


    Leaders around the world have been expressing their gratitude to Mr Mandela and sadness at his death. "We are relieved that his suffering is over, but our relief is drowned by our grief. May he rest in peace and rise in glory," said Archbishop Desmond Tutu.


    Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete has described Mandela as "a great hero of 20th and 21st centuries" and announced three days of national mourning where all flags will fly at half mast. "His nationalism and self sacrifice in the interest of his people is worth emulating by the whole world," he says.

    Mike Wooldridge World Affairs correspondent

    says Mr Mandela's funeral will be like no other in South Africa, and a huge logistical challenge. "But the unofficial mourning and celebration of Nelson Mandela's life is already under way, in spontaneous gatherings and dancing outside his Johannesburg home, in Soweto and elsewhere. There will be much more."


    The BBC's Vikas Pandey in Delhi took this picture of a worker on the roof of the American Center in the city lowering the building's flag in honour of Nelson Mandela a short time ago.

    Flag lowered on American Center, Delhi

    Readers are sending tributes to the @bbcafrica Twitter account. Rukudzo Kahlari writes: "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela."

    Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo

    has posted a photo of himself and Mr Mandela, and tweeted: Thankful Madiba for your legacy and your example. You'll always stay with us.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zairf

    tweets: "We in Iran join the people of South Africa in mourning the death of Nelson Mandela, who inspired humanity with his courage & compassion."


    Singing and dancing has continued overnight in South Africa's Soweto - the focus of much of the anti-apartheid struggle and violence. This was the scene in the last few minutes.

    Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak

    tweets: #Mandela lives on in the spirit of every human that believes in democracy and freedom. Thank you for your legacy, Madiba.

    Pakistani politician and former cricketer Imran Khan

    tweeted earlier: Inspirational leader 4 all humanity. Courageous, steadfast, selfless &, in his hour of victory, forgiving.


    US Vice-President Joe Biden has paid tribute to Mr Mandela in a statement. "First his courage and then his forgiveness inspired us all, and challenged us to do better," he says.


    Mr Biden recalls his experience during a visit to South Africa as a 34-year-old senator: "When I exited the plane I was directed to one side of the tarmac, while the African American congressmen travelling with me were sent to the other side. I refused to break off, and the officials finally relented... Because of Nelson Mandela's courage, and compassion, that world has been transformed."

    US broadcaster and presenter @Oprah Winfrey

    posts on Instagram: One of the great honors of my life was to be invited to Nelson Mandela's home, spend private time and get to know him

    Natasha Sivanandan from London

    emails: My first political action as a child was to go on an anti-apartheid demonstration and rally in Trafalgar Square. I continued to campaign for sanctions against South Africa and fund raise for Anti-Apartheid for many years. Decades later I met Nelson Mandela when he came to Wood Green, North London and then later to Brixton in 1996. He was an inspirational fighter for equality and justice, peace and reconciliation.

    Malysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak

    #Mandela lives on in the spirit of every human that believes in democracy and freedom. Thank you for your legacy, Madiba.

    Milton Nkosi BBC News, Johannesburg

    says crowds outside Mr Mandela's home have been singing throughout the night, mostly old liberation songs, "in celebration for the life of Mandela as much as they are mourning his passing".


    Burmese lawmaker and fellow Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has paid tribute to Mr Mandela. "I would like to express my extreme grief at the passing away of a man who stood for human rights and for equality in this world," she says.


    Aung San Suu Kyi also describes Mr Mandela as a "great human being who raised the standard of humanity".

    "He made us all understand that nobody should be penalised for the colour of his skin, for the circumstances into which he is born. He also made us understand that we can change the world - we can change the world by changing attitudes, by changing perceptions".


    "His was a choice to not only be a product but the maker of his and his people's history." Read the full statement from the African National Congress.


    BBC reporter Nomsa Maseko, who is from South Africa, spoke earlier about her memories of Nelson Mandela being released, when she was 10 years old. She recalled her mother telling her: "You are now free." Watch her interview again now


    Tributes have been pouring in from world leaders, campaigners and celebrities. You can read the BBC's round up of world reaction to Mr Mandela's death here.


    Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has expressed his expressed his "deep sadness". In a message posted on his website, as seen by BBC Monitoring, the Dalai Lama said: "In his death the world has lost a great leader, whose steadfast and unflinching determination played a key role in securing peace and reconciliation during South Africa's transition from apartheid rule. Under his leadership South Africa was transformed through peaceful means, in the spirit of reconciliation."

    Bollywood actress Pooja Bhatt

    has posted a photo of Mr Mandela's autographed memoirs, and tweeted: Privileged to have as part of my inheritance Nelson Mandela's "autograph" to my father.


    This was the outside of the famous Apollo Theatre in New York's Harlem on Thursday night.

    Apollo theatre, New York

    Mourners also gathered outside the Cape Town City Hall, where Mr Mandela made his first speech after his release from his 27-year incarceration in 1990. You can see pictures from South Africa and around the world in this BBC gallery.

    A girl holds a South African national flag outside the Cape Town City Hall. Photo: 6 December 2013
    0450: British former heavyweight boxer Lennox Lewis

    posts on his website: I'm very saddened today to hear of the passing of one of my lifelong heroes, President Nelson Mandela. He lived a life of example through his dedication, commitment and unwavering love, not only for his brothers and sisters in South Africa, but for the entire human race.

    Marina Mahathir, Malaysian HIV and Aids activist

    tweeted: RIP #NelsonMandela ,truly a giant among men. Thank you for inspiring so many of us working in human rights n #HIV . You'll be missed. :'(

    Eve Wilson from Montagu, South Africa

    emails: I met Mandela once. It was one of those moments that doesn't seem real any more because it was so strange. I was at Exclusive Books in Claremont, Cape Town, looking at Mandela's book "Long Walk to Freedom". I was absorbed in browsing through it when I became aware of an buzz of atmosphere around me. When I looked up, there was Mandela, smiling at me over the top of the book shelf and asking me "How are you?" I could not believe what I was seeing because the exact same face was on the book I was holding in my hand. We had a brief exchange of pleasantries and he told me he was looking for something to read. I told him I had just found a great book and showed it to him and he laughed.


    BBC Chinese's Hong Kong Bureau reports that microblog users in China are posting lyrics from a Cantonese Pop song, Glorious Years, to mark Mr Mandela's death. The 1990 song by Hong Kong rock band Beyond was about the struggle of Mr Mandela.


    It's no surprise that all the UK's main newspapers have Nelson Mandela on their front pages this morning. The Guardian also invites readers to explore key events in his life by clicking through some striking images on an interactive timeline.


    Mr Mandela was a self-confessed Anglophile, the BBC's Emily Buchanan explains in this video. In 1996, his appearance in London's Trafalgar Square was a poignant moment, she says.

    The Economist

    tweets: Nelson #Mandela was a born leader who feared nobody, debased himself before no one and never lost his sense of humour


    As the period of mourning for Nelson Mandela begins, books of condolence are being opened at public buildings in South Africa and the country's embassies around the world.


    The first major event will be a service of national mourning at the FNB stadium (with a capacity of nearly 95,000) on the outskirts of Johannesburg.


    This will be followed by three days of lying in state in Pretoria. Nelson Mandela's body will then be taken to the Eastern Cape for a state funeral in Qunu, the village where he grew up.


    Flowers and tributes have been left overnight by the statue of Nelson Mandela, close to the Houses of Parliament in London.

    Flowers at Mandela statue in London (6 Dec 2013)

    In Cape Town, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is currently holding a service of thanks for the life of Nelson Mandela. He said that Mr Mandela "taught a divided nation to come together".


    Makeshift memorials outside Mr Mandela's house in Johannesburg are growing rapidly, as more mourners come to pay their last respects.

    Women light candles in Johannesburg. Photo: 6 December 2013
    Karyn Maughan, legal journalist in Johannesburg

    tweets: Asked a 5-year-old if she knew who Nelson #Mandela was. Her response? "A prince who loved everybody". #RIPMadiba


    Hong Kong's Chief Executive CY Leung says of Mr Mandela: "We will remember Mr Mandela as a great man for his sacrifices, accomplishments and relentless quest for peace."

    Nsizwa Nhlapo from Johannesburg

    emails: I had a rare one-on-one meeting with Madiba. I was in grade 11 in 1990 at a school diagonally opposite his house in Orlando West. My dad was dropping me off to for exam preparations at 0630h at the school. While in the school yard, I saw him come out of his veranda to read a newspaper. I went to him and he asked why I was there at that time. I told him and he said: "All youngsters should learn something from you; good luck, my son."


    A reminder that you can see our gallery of Nelson Mandela's life in pictures here.


    England and Australia cricket players have paid their tributes to Nelson Mandela. Both teams observed a minute's silence ahead of the second day's play of the Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval as Mr Mandela's image was shown on the stadium's large video screen.

    England players Kevin Pietersen and Michael Carberry observe a minute's silence to mark the passing of Nelson Mandela

    American civil rights campaigner Reverend Jesse Jackson pays tribute to Mr Mandela but says his legacy remains to be secured, adding: "Economic apartheid, land apartheid and health apartheid still exist in South Africa."

    C.R.Hanson from London

    emails: I'm a British South African. I'm in tears right now. My uncle, Harold Hanson KC, played a huge part in Mandela's trial and in saving his life. He is mentioned in the book "Long Walk to Freedom". I am very proud of him at this time. Mandela truly created a miracle of freedom and a unique example of peace and reconciliation between races in South Africa, the beloved country of my birth.

    Simon Bailey from Los Angeles

    emails: I am a South African musician that had the honour of meeting Madiba when performing at one of his 46664 Concerts. I was overwhelmed in his presence. He changed every room he walked into. He changed our world. It is now up to us to continue exemplifying his selfless vision for a better world.

    Breaking News
    The Queen with Nelson Mandela in 1996

    The Queen describes the former South African president as someone who "worked tirelessly for the good of his country". She adds: "His legacy is the peaceful South Africa we see today." A statement issued by Buckingham Palace says: "Her Majesty remembers with great warmth her meetings with Mr Mandela and sends her sincere condolences to his family and the people of South Africa at this very sad time."


    That concludes our coverage of the early reaction to Nelson Mandela's death at age 95. Live coverage of tributes as they come in will continue.


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