March 10, 2014
Nelson Mandela passes away at age of 95
Zuma announced this afternoon that 'Madiba', as he was known locally, passed away peacefully in his Johannesburg residence after a prolonged lung infection.
"Our nation has lost its greatest son," the president stated in his address to the South African people
The president also confirmed that the former leader of the African National Congress would be given a state funeral, and that flags in South Africa would be flown at half-mast as a sign of respect for the statesman.
The ANC released a statement paying tribute to the Nobel Peace Prize winner, stating that the world has lost "a colossus and epitome of humility, equality, justice and peace" on his passing.
Mandela rose from rural obscurity to challenge the might of white minority apartheid government - a struggle that gave the 20th century one of its most respected and loved figures.
He was among the first to advocate armed resistance to apartheid in 1960, but was quick to preach reconciliation and forgiveness when the country's white minority began easing its grip on power 30 years later.Mandela, who in 1994 became the country's first black president after the system of apartheid which desenfranchised the majority population collapsed, had struggled with health problems in his later years.
After spending much of 2013 hospitalised due to a lung infection, he was allowed to return home in September, where he spent his final days.