Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Mandela as a giant among men. US President Barack Obama said Mandela was an inspiration to millions around the world. British Premier David Cameron called Mandela a towering figure, a legend, a true global hero and a great light. French president FranÃ§ois Hollande said Mandela was a tireless fighter against apartheid which he defeated with courage, obstinacy and perseverance.
The 95 year old anti-apartheid campaigner passed away in his home in Pretoria on Thursday night after years of ill-health.
South African President Jacob Zuma told the nation of Mandela’s death saying the nation had lost its greatest son but added that Mandela was at peace. Zuma said the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, known affectionately by his clan name Madiba, had died shortly before 9pm local time. He said flags would fly at half-mast as the country prepares to give Mandela a full state funeral.
While the world mourns what many have called a father-figure, the tributes appear to point to the fact that Mandela will live on long after his mortal life. Many tributes talk about his selflessness, courage, compassion, clear-headedness, and peace among others.
In Tanzania, President Jakaya Kikwete has declared three days of mourning. He said the world has lost one of its greatest citizens, calling Mandela "a voice of courage, a source of inspiration and a beloved leader to all.
President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya said Mandela "embodied the power of hope and believed in the power of forgiveness, while in Rwanda, President Paul Kagame said that Mandela will continue to live in the hearts of many people.
The head of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Justin Welby, said South Africa has lost its greatest citizen and its father. Reverend Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said Mandela, is finally freed to be with his God in joy and reward for his great service and sacrifice.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a fellow anti-apartheid campaigner, said Mandela was not only an amazing gift to humankind, he made South Africans and Africans feel good about being who they are.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Mandela as a giant among men while Sonia Gandhi, the leader of India’s ruling Congress Party said the Nobel Peace Prize laureate redefined courage and lead his nation from the front.
Queen Elizabeth said she is "deeply saddened" by Mandela's death and that "his legacy is the peaceful South Africa we see today."
US President Barack Obama delivered a sombre statement at the White House in which he described the personal inspiration he had drawn from the man he called Madiba. Madiba is Mandela’s traditional name. Obama said he was one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela's life.
Obama was among the last leaders to meet Mandela six months ago when the US president visited South Africa shortly after the anti-apartheid icon had been hospitalized for a recurring lung infection.
British Prime Minister David Cameron called Mandela a towering figure, a legend in life and now in death, a true global hero and a great light that has gone out in the world. Cameron said that South Africa they will be mourning a man who was the embodiment of grace.
France's president François Hollande, said Mandela made history of South Africa and of the whole world, as a tireless fighter against apartheid which he defeated with his courage, his obstinacy and his perseverance.
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described Mandela as a "great leader" who "fought with a strong will to eliminate apartheid and achieved a great deal by putting national reconciliation at the centre of his nation-building".
The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said Mandela worked to heal rifts within South African society and succeeded in preventing outbreaks of racial hatred. Veteran Israeli leader Shimon Peres, who like Mandela is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, praised Mandela as "a builder of bridges of peace and dialogue who paid a heavy personal price for his struggle in the years he spent in prison and fighting for his people". Mandela spent 27 years in jail for his campaign against apartheid.
Born on July 18, 1918, Nelson Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1943, as a law student. He rose through the party ranks to become secretary general by the time of his high profile trial in 1964 at which he was sentenced to life imprisonment for his political activities. He spent most of his prison life at Robben Island before being released in 1990.