Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Alex Veeneman, Asst. News Editor
The former South African president Nelson Mandela died Dec. 5 in the capital Johannesburg.
Mandela had a recurring lung infection and was being treated at home since September, according to a report from the British newspaper The Guardian.
In a televised address, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma said Mandela was at peace.
“Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father,” Zuma said in a transcript released from his office. “Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss. What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.”
Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years in attempts to create peace and stop apartheid in South Africa after white minority rule, was the country’s first black president. He was elected in 1994, but stepped down from office in 1999.
Mandela was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. According to a report from the BBC, his funeral is likely to take place Dec. 14.
In a statement, President Barack Obama said he drew inspiration from Mandela’s life.
“A free South Africa at peace with itself — that’s an example to the world, and that’s Mandela’s legacy to the nation he loved,” Obama said according to a White House transcript. “We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again.”
Steven Zlatic, director of university ministry, said he was an inspiration to many around the world, including himself.
“His book ‘A Long Walk to Freedom’ was inspiring to me for two reasons – the man had such faith to experience all the suffering that he did, and secondly, it’s a great story of coming to awareness,” Zlatic said.
Zlatic added, it was sad that a man who was an image of so many good values had passed.
“It takes time to see things as they are and come up with a vision,” Zlatic said. “He is such a symbol of freedom and responding to violence with non-violence, of a man who brought people together. For many people, he is one of the great people of the last 100 years, especially when it comes to countries turning to non-violence.”
Many consider Mandela to be an international leader, and countries that look to turn to non-violence look to him for inspiration, Zlatic says. Mandela is on par with Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, and, Zlatic adds, will be remembered as a holy person.
“He is recognized with a lot of other great people,” Zlatic said. “Those people will be remembered as holy people because they lived and breathed the Gospel, witnessing to values and peace and belief in God in practical ways. For a lot of civilizations who want to move to non-violence, they will look at him and say he did it.”