South Africa's Greatest Son: World Mourns Mandela

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The world is in mourning Friday over the loss of South African anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela.

Mandela, who passed away "peacefully" Thursday at age 95, is known as South Africa's first black president, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and the man who defeated his country's racist apartheid system.

Now leaders and ordinary citizens across the globe are paying tribute to a life that changed the world.

"He is now resting. He is now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss," South African President Jacob Zuma said.

What can be known about Mandela's faith? Regent University's Dr. Corne Bekker, who is from South Africa, talked about this and Mandela's lasting influence, on CBN Newswatch, Dec. 6.

President Barack Obama described Mandela as "a moral giant who embodied the dignity and the courage and the hope, and sought to bring about justice not only in South Africa, but I think to inspire millions of people around the world."

"We just lost another piece of history again," one mourner said. "It's a shame. This man has done a lot for the entire world, for everyone one, for you and I, even for the future generation."

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said, "Nelson Mandela was a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration. Many around the world were greatly influenced by his selfless struggle for human dignity, equality, and freedom. He touched our lives in deeply personal ways."

Bishop T.D. Jakes also paid tribute to Mandela, hailing him as a "servant-leader."

"I am deeply saddened to have lost such an enduring symbol of freedom and liberty; Nelson Mandela was an elder statesman who embodied the very essence of servant-leader," he said.

For many, the legacy of the man who taught the world it's possible to transform anger into hope will live on.

Mandela grew up feeling the shackles of South Africa's brutally racist apartheid system. For 20 years he led a non-violent campaign against the government. But then his philosophy changed to one of armed struggle.

In 1964 he was sentenced to life in prison for planning to topple the government. When he was finally released in 1990 he had a much more tolerant attitude towards his opponents in the government.

"Nelson Mandela understood we cannot hold these grudges if we hope to go forward," Rev. Calvin Butts said. "There must be some forgiveness. It is not justice that's going to cure the distortions of human community. It is the forgiveness of sin. He was able to forgive."

Mandela's dream was realized in 1994 when black South Africans cast their first ballots in a democratic election and Mandela became the nation's first black president. In 1999, he stepped down, handing power over to the next generation.

Next week, South Africa will hold a memorial service at a 95,000-seat stadium. The White House said President Obama will attend the service.

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