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Last updated at 11:43 GMT, Friday, 06 December 2013

Nelson Mandela dies

Summary

6 December 2013

South Africa's first black president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95. Mr Mandela led South Africa's transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s, after 27 years in prison for his political activities. He had been receiving intensive medical care at home for a lung infection after spending three months in hospital.

Reporter:

Mike Wooldridge, Johannesburg

Nelson Mandela

Mandela became a worldwide symbol of resistance to apartheid

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Report

Nelson Mandela's death may, in the short term, unite South Africa in ways that have never been seen before.

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. We can clearly expect so much more in the coming days in this country where the emotional charge is so powerful.

This unity may coalesce around a determination to push South Africa further down the road of non-racialism, of equality of opportunity and the eradication of poverty, all of them among Nelson Mandela's most cherished ambitions for the country.

But South Africa is only months away from a general election, 20 years after the historic one of 1994. And Nelson Mandela's ANC has been facing unprecedented levels of criticism, with new parties surfacing to challenge its hold on power since the days of apartheid.

Will the Mandela legacy help the ANC fend off the challenges, or will his passing - in the longer if not the shorter term - lead to significant change within the ANC itself. 2014 could point the way towards his political legacy.

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Vocabulary

well-wishers

people who express their desire for happiness and success for other people

reminder

something that makes you remember

coalesce

join and grow together

eradication

elimination

cherished

loved and cared for

unprecedented

never happened before

surfacing

appearing

legacy

past achievements that continue to have effects into the future

fend off

defend (itself) against an attack

passing

death