Nelson Mandela death: South Africa and world mourn

media captionA look back at the life of Nelson Mandela

South Africans have gathered in Johannesburg and Soweto to mourn their former leader, Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday aged 95.

Crowds have been paying tribute, dancing and singing in front of Mr Mandela's former home in Soweto.

He is to be accorded a state funeral on Sunday 15 December, President Jacob Zuma announced.

Mr Mandela spent 27 years in jail before becoming South Africa's first black president in 1994.

His administration replaced the racist white-minority regime that had enforced segregation of black and white people in a policy known as apartheid.

Mr Mandela went on to become one of the world's most respected statesmen.

At a news conference on Friday afternoon, Mr Zuma outlined a week of events to mourn the former president.

  • Sunday will be an official day of prayer and reflection with special religious services
  • On Tuesday, a service of national mourning will be held at a 95,000-seater stadium on the outskirts of Johannesburg
  • Mr Mandela's body will lie in state from Wednesday to Friday in the capital, Pretoria

The funeral will be held in the village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape, where Mr Mandela grew up. South African Airways has announced that it will provide extra flights to Qunu for mourners.

Hundreds have attended an interfaith remembrance service outside Cape Town's City Hall. The Johannesburg stock exchange suspended operations for five minutes on Friday as a mark of respect.


"We sincerely thank all South Africans for the dignified manner in which they have respected and responded to the monumental loss of this international icon," Mr Zuma said.

Speaking in Cape Town, Mr Mandela's long-time ally, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, described him as an "incredible gift" to South Africa. "He taught us extraordinarily practical lessons about forgiveness, compassion and reconciliation."

He also cited Mr Mandela's weaknesses, including "his steadfast loyalty to his organisation and some of his colleagues who ultimately let him down".

image captionMourners were gathered outside Mr Mandela's old home in Soweto into Friday night
image captionHundreds also came to pay their respects outside Mr Mandela's home in the suburb of Houghton

Mr Mandela had been receiving treatment at home for a recurring lung illness since September, when he was discharged from hospital.

As soon as the news of his death broke late on Thursday, small crowds began to gather in Soweto's Vilakazi Street, where Mr Mandela lived in the 1940s and 1950s.

Crowds also gathered outside Mr Mandela's current home, in Johannesburg's northern suburb of Houghton, where he died. A stage has been erected there and speeches are being given and hymns sung.

President Zuma visited the house in the early afternoon to pay his respects.

Across the world, leaders, celebrities and members of the public have been paying tribute.

Pope Francis said Mr Mandela had forged "a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth".

Queen Elizabeth II said she was "deeply saddened" to learn of Mr Mandela's death and said she remembered her meetings with him "with great warmth".

media captionWhat was apartheid? A 90-second look back at decades of injustice

"He achieved more than could be expected of any man. Today, he has gone home," said US President Barack Obama.

The White House has announced that Mr Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will be travelling to South Africa next week to pay their respects and take part in memorial events.

The opening of a summit of African leaders in Paris to discuss security was dedicated to Mr Mandela, with many of those present paying tribute.

Flags are flying at half-mast on government buildings in Washington DC, Paris and across South Africa. The European Union and world football body Fifa have also ordered their flags to be lowered.

Parliament in Pretoria is expected to hold a special joint session to reflect on Mr Mandela's life and legacy.

The BBC's Mike Wooldridge in Johannesburg says South Africa will never have seen a state funeral like it, with leaders, dignitaries and other admirers of the former president expected from all over the world.

It will be a huge logistical challenge, especially given the remoteness of Qunu, our correspondent adds.

Mr Mandela died shortly before 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT) on Thursday.

He won admiration around the world when he preached reconciliation after being freed from almost three decades of imprisonment.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 along with FW de Klerk, South Africa's last white president.

Mr de Klerk, who ordered Mr Mandela's release from jail, called him a "unifier" and said he had "a remarkable lack of bitterness".

image captionThe young as well as older people have been deeply affected by his death
image captionMr Mandela has been credited with uniting South Africans of every colour
image captionMr Mandela's former fellow anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu paid tribute at a service in Capetown
image captionMr Mandela's death has been marked around the world. Here passers-by pay tribute in the Chinese capital Beijing

Mr Mandela had rarely been seen in public since officially retiring in 2004. He made his last public appearance in 2010, at the football World Cup in South Africa.

Roving diplomat

Born in 1918, Nelson Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1943, as a law student.

He and other ANC leaders campaigned against apartheid.

Initially he campaigned peacefully but in the 1960s the ANC began to advocate violence, and Mr Mandela was made the commander of its armed wing.

He was arrested for sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964, serving most of his sentence on Robben Island.

He was released in 1990 as South Africa began to move away from strict racial segregation - a process completed by the first multi-racial elections in 1994.

Mr Mandela served a single term as president before stepping down in 1999.

After leaving office, he became South Africa's highest-profile ambassador, campaigning against HIV/Aids and helping to secure his country's right to host the 2010 football World Cup.

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  • Johannesburg and Cape Town


    Young people on the streets of Johannesburg and Cape Town react to the news of Nelson Mandela's death.

  • Houghton, Johannesburg


    The BBC's Milton Nkosi reports from Houghton, Johannesburg, where crowds gathered outside Nelson Mandela's home.

  • Soweto


    In Soweto, people danced in the streets to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela. The BBC's Will Ross reports.

  • Cape Town


    At a memorial service in Cape Town, Archbishop Desmond Tutu gave thanks for the life of Nelson Mandela and paid tribute to what the former South African president achieved.