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Nelson Mandela: what they said

What the world is saying about the death of Nelson Mandela:


— US President Barack Obama: “He achieved more than could be expected of any man.”

— South African President Jacob Zuma: “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.”

— Former South African president F.W. de Klerk: “I believe that his example will live on and that it will continue to inspire all South Africans to achieve his vision of non-racialism, justice, human dignity, and equality for all.”

— British Prime Minister David Cameron: “A great light has gone out in the world.”

— Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi: “He made us all understand that nobody should be penalised for the colour of his skin, for the circumstances into which he is born. He also made us understand that we can change the world.”

— Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: “A giant among men has passed away. This is as much India’s loss as South Africa’s. He was a true Gandhian.”

— Chinese President Xi Jinping: “With arduous and extraordinary efforts, he led the people of South Africa to success in the struggle against apartheid, making a historic contribution to the birth and development of a new South Africa.”

— UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon: “Nelson Mandela was a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration.”

— Former US president Bill Clinton: “History will remember Nelson Mandela as a champion of human dignity and freedom, for peace and reconciliation.”

— Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan: “A source of inspiration to oppressed peoples all over the world.”

— Poland’s Solidarity leader and former president Lech Walesa: “A great man has died.”

— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “He will be remembered as the father of the new South Africa.”

— Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas: “The Palestinian people will never forget his historic statement that the South African revolution will not have achieved its goals as long as the Palestinians are not free.”


— Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “He was a unifier from the moment he walked out of prison. He taught us how to come together and believe in ourselves.”

— Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama: “The best tribute we can pay to him is to do whatever we can to contribute to honouring the oneness of humanity and working for peace and reconciliation as he did.”

— Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby: “South Africa has lost its greatest citizen and its father. Nelson Mandela, fighting to the end, is freed to be with his God in joy and reward for his great service and sacrifice.”


— The South African Rugby Union: “He used the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the first major sporting event to be hosted in SA after the 1994 democratic elections, as an instrument of change to help promote unity amongst all South Africans.”

— South Africa’s one-day cricket captain AB de Villiers: “Let us now, more than ever, stick together as a nation! We owe him that much.”

— Boxing great Muhammad Ali: “He taught us forgiveness on a grand scale. His was a spirit born free, destined to soar above the rainbows. Today his spirit is soaring through the heavens. He is now forever free.”

— Former England football captain David Beckham: “We have lost a true gentleman and a courageous human being. It was truly an honour to have known a man who had genuine love for so many people.”

— Brazil football legend Pele: “He was my hero, my friend.”

— English cricket legend Geoffrey Boycott: “I asked if he was a bowler or batsman. He smiled and said he was an all-rounder. I said ‘I thought you were a God’.”

Entertainers and celebrities

— U2 singer Bono: “Without Mandela, would Africa be experiencing its best decade of growth and poverty reduction?”

— Britain’s Prince William (after attending the London premiere of the new film “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”): “We were just reminded of what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was.”

— British actor Idris Elba (who plays Mandela in the film): “We have lost one of the greatest human beings to have walked this Earth.”

— US actor Morgan Freeman (who played Mandela in the film “Invictus” about the 1995 Rugby World Cup): “Today the world lost one of the true giants of the past century.”

— South African actress Charlize Theron: “Rest in Peace Madiba. You will be missed, but your impact on this world will live forever.”

— Former CNN interviewer Larry King: “He was so eloquent and classy.”

Business leaders

— Microsoft founder Bill Gates: “His grace and courage changed the world.”

— Virgin group founder Richard Branson: “Nelson Mandela redefined leadership. He showed that great things can be achieved by leading through wisdom, empathy and integrity, with no other agenda than humanity.”

— American billionaire Donald Trump: “Nelson Mandela and myself had a wonderful relationship — he was a special man and will be missed.”

— World Bank president Jim Yong Kim: “The world has lost a man who brought a rainbow of possibilities to a country that was segregated into black and white.”