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Nelson Mandela dies peacefully at 95

Johannesburg: Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first elected African president and a global anti-apartheid icon, has died early on Friday aged 95, President Jacob Zuma said.

“Fellow South Africans, our beloved...the founding president of our democratic nation, has departed,” Zuma said in a nationally televised address.

He passed away peacefully at 20:50 (local time), December 5, Zuma said.

“He is now resting. He is now at peace...Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father,” he said.

Mandela will have a state funeral. Zuma ordered all flags in the nation to be flown at half-mast from Friday through the funeral, the BBC reported.

Madiba, as Mandela was fondly known, had been battling health issues in recent months, including a recurring lung infection that led to numerous hospitalisations.

Friends and relatives of the ailing statesman had gathered yesterday, at his Johannesburg home where “democratic South Africa’s founding father” was said to be on his “deathbed“.

Daughter Makaziwe Mandela, in an interview to national broadcaster SABC, had said, the 95-year-old world leader continues to fight against the ailments ravaging him.

Grandchild, Ndaba Mandela, on Thursday had also lamented Mandela’s ill state.

Mandela was admitted to the Pretoria Heart Clinic in June, where he was treated for a recurring lung infection before he was released to receive home-based care nearly three months later.

At the time there was a outpouring of love and concern for the elder statesman from around the world. However on Thursday, it was quiet outside Mandela’s Houghton home, where a slew of specialist physicians were attending to his health.

Last month, Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela said he was no longer talking “because of all the tubes that are in his mouth to clear (fluid from) the lungs”.

Mandela, who emerged from prison after 27 years to lead South Africa out of decades of apartheid before becoming the country’s first black leader, had faced several health scares.

His most recent hospital stay spanning over three months was his longest since he walked free in 1990.

Mandela is widely respected for his role in fighting racism in South Africa, and for forgiving his former white captors after his release from prison. — PTIBack









Mandela — a global statesman and peace icon

Johannesburg: Globally respected as a symbol of resistance against injustice, Nelson Mandela brought an end to the much-despised apartheid regime in South Africa while spreading the spirit of freedom in the rest of Africa.

Incarcerated for 27 years through much of his youth, Mandela became the first-ever elected black President of his country, ushering in multi-racial democracy replacing the whites-only rule.

Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's principle of Ahimsa, especially his campaign in South Africa itself during his days as a lawyer, Mandela also preached against violence though the struggle against the apartheid regime was marked by violent incidents.

The 95-year-old Nobel laureate was one of the world's most revered statesmen and was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour in 1990.

Mandela, who had been suffering from a recurring lung infection, died early today following a prolonged spell of ill-health.

He led the struggle to replace the apartheid regime of South Africa with a multi-racial democracy.

Jailed for 27 years, Mandela emerged to become the country's first black President and to play a leading role in the drive for peace in other spheres of conflict. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

His charisma, self-deprecating sense of humour and lack of bitterness over his harsh treatment, as well as his amazing life story, partly explain his extraordinary global appeal.

Mandela's crusade against the apartheid regime of South Africa, has often drawn a parallel with Mahatma Gandhi's fight against the British rule in India. 

Mandela, who always praised Gandhi for his principles of 'Satya and Ahimsa', at an unveiling of Gandhi Memorial in South Africa in 1993, had said, "The Mahatma is an integral part of our history because it is here that he first experimented with truth; here that he demonstrated his characteristic firmness in pursuit of justice; here that he developed Satyagraha as a philosophy and a method of struggle."

"Gandhi is most revered for his commitment to non-violence and the Congress Movement was strongly influenced by this Gandhian philosophy, it was a philosophy that achieved the mobilisation of millions of South Africans during the 1952 defiance campaign, which established the ANC as a mass-based organisation," Mandela had said in his address.

Mandela was born in 1918 into the Xhosa-speaking Thembu people in a small village in the eastern Cape of South Africa. He was often called by his clan name - "Madiba".

Born as Rolihlahla Dalibhunga, he was given his English name, Nelson, by a teacher at his school.

His father, a counsellor to the Thembu royal family, died when Mandela was nine, and he was placed in the care of the acting regent of the Thembu people, chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo.

In 1941, aged 23, he ran away from an arranged marriage and went to Johannesburg.

Two years later, he enrolled for a law degree at the mainly Afrikaner Witwatersrand University, where he met people from all races and backgrounds.

He was exposed to liberal, radical and Africanist thought, as well as racism and discrimination, which fuelled his passion for politics.

The same year, he joined the African National Congress (ANC) and later co-founded the ANC Youth League.

He married his first wife, Evelyn Mase, in 1944. They were divorced in 1958 after having four children.

Mandela qualified as a lawyer and in 1952 set up South Africa's first black law firm with Oliver Tambo.

In 1956, Mandela was charged with high treason, along with 155 other activists, but the charges against him were dropped after a four-year trial.

Resistance to apartheid grew, mainly against the new Pass Laws, which dictated where black people were allowed to live and work.

In 1958, Mandela married Winnie Madikizela, who was later to take an active role in the campaign to free her husband from prison.

The ANC was outlawed in 1960 and Mandela went underground.

Tensions with the apartheid regime grew, and soared to new heights in 1960 when 69 black people were shot dead by police in the Sharpeville massacre.

This marked the end of peaceful resistance and Mandela, already national vice-president of the ANC, launched a campaign of economic sabotage.

He was eventually arrested and charged with sabotage and attempting to violently overthrow the government. Speaking from the dock in the Rivonia court room, Mandela used the stand to convey his beliefs about democracy, freedom and equality.

"I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities," he had said during the historic trial.

Popular pressure led world leaders to tighten the sanctions first imposed on South Africa in 1967 against the apartheid regime.

The pressure produced results, and in 1990, President F W de Klerk lifted the ban on the ANC, and Mandela was released from prison as talks on forming a new multi-racial democracy for South Africa began.

He remained in prison on Robben Island for 18 years before being transferred to Pollsmoor Prison on the mainland in 1982.

Huge crowds greeted Nelson Mandela's release. In December 1993, Mandela and Klerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Five months later, for the first time in South Africa's history, all races voted in democratic elections and Mandela was overwhelmingly elected president.

Since stepping down as president in 1999, Mandela has become 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.

He married Graca Machel on his 80th birthday. He entrusted his deputy, Thabo Mbeki, with the day-to-day business of the government, while he concentrated on the ceremonial duties of a leader, building a new international image of South Africa. — PTIBack









Pranab, Manmohan pay tributes to Mandela

NEW DELHI: President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday paid tributes to former South African President and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela who died at the age of 95.

“A giant among men has passed away. This is as much India’s loss as South Africa’s. He was a true Gandhian,” the Prime Minister wrote in a tweet.

“His life and work will remain a source of eternal inspiration for generations to come. I join all those who are praying for his soul,” he said.

Mukherjee said “President Mandela was a statesman, world leader and icon of inspiration of humanity. He was a great friend of India and his contribution for strengthening the close ties between our two countries will be always remembered.”

Conveying his heartfelt condolences on the demise of the anti-aparthied icon, Mukherjee conveyed his condolences on behalf of the people and the Government of India.

“I convey heartfelt condolences on behalf of the people and the Government of India as well as my personal behalf to the family members of late president Mandela and the people and the Government of South Africa,” he said.

Mandela was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1990 in honour of his contribution to the friendship between the two countries.

Paying tribute to the anti-apartheid icon, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said Mandela redefined the meaning of courage and sacrifice.

“Nelson Mandela was a true leader who lead his nation always from the front. He was an inspiration and support for millions,” she said in the Lok Sabha as MPs paid tribute to the South African leader who died on Thursday night.

“He redefined the meaning of courage and sacrifice,” she said adding that his courage was “superhuman”.

“Like the Mahatma (Gandhi) who inspired him, he belonged to all humanity,” she said. — IANS Back








Manmohan recognises Modi as a challenger

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday disagreed with those in the Congress who were dismissive of the challenge posed by Narendra Modi but asserted that the party would approach the 2014 Lok Sabha polls with self-confidence, irrespective of the results of the just concluded elections in five states.

"As it is an organised party, we cannot underestimate the power of Opposition to unsettle the ship of the state. Therefore, I am one of those who take very seriously our opponents. There is no room for complacency," he said.

The Prime Minister was answering questions after delivering the keynote address at the 11th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here.

Earlier in his address, Singh also criticised those who try to accuse the entire political class of being corrupt and spread cynicism.

"Over the past two years, some well meaning and concerned citizens tried to spread cynicism by accusing the entire political class of being corrupt and anti-people. Many began to suggest that democracy had not served India well. They attacked the institution of Parliament by refusing to respect Parliament's judgment," he said while asking the people to look at the "big picture".

Exit polls have predicted rout for Congress in the Assembly polls to Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh when counting of votes takes place on Sunday. Counting of votes for Mizoram will also take place the same day.

Notwithstanding the poll projections, the Prime Minister said, "Congress party is going to the elections with the spirit of self-confidence and that should not be mistaken whatever may be the outcome of the provincial elections."

He was asked about different views among his cabinet colleagues, one of whom has stated that the challenge posed by Modi should be taken seriously while another has dismissed the challenge posed by BJP's prime ministerial candidate.

The Prime Minister rejected a poser that the Communal Violence Bill is a vote-catching gimmick and said the government's effort is to ensure that if riots can't be prevented, there should be adequate compensation for the victims.

"It is not a vote-catching gimmick.....What happened in Muzaffarnagar and some other parts of our country is a reminder that although as a country, we can take pride in our ability to protect all the people, yet there are times when aberrations take place," he said.

"This Bill, if it is passed by Parliament, will help to control those aberrations," he added. — PTIBack




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