“Our nation has lost its greatest son,” President Zuma said in a televised address. “His humility, his compassion and his humanity earned him our love.”
Mandela had been battling serious health complications for the past several months, including a lung infection, that sent him to the hospital several times this year. Before his death at 8:50pm, family and friends gathered by his bedside at his home in Eastern Cape, Qunu.
The iconic leader spent 27 years behind bars at Robben Island for his opposition against white rule in his country. He eventually went on to become South Africa’s first Black president, serving only one term from 1994 to 1999. Mandela spent most of his retirement years devoted to charitable causes for children.
The elder statesman’ life was recently captured in the biopic Mandela, released last week, starring Idris Elba.The film depicted his lengthy prison stint and his symbolic release in 1990.
“I raised my right fist and there was a roar,” Mandela said.