JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- The death of anti-apartheid icon and former South African President Nelson Mandela marked the end of a historic era, his successor said Friday.
Mandela's passing, which happened Thursday night, "signals the end of an historic era represented by the heroic deeds of his generation," Thabo Mbeki, who succeeded Mandela as president in 1999, said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Mbeki called for continued efforts to fulfill Mandela's mission.
"As we mourn President Mandela's passing, we must ask ourselves the fundamental question: What shall we do to respond to the tasks of building a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa, a people-centered society free of hunger, poverty, disease and inequality, as well as Africa's renaissance, to whose attainment President Nelson Mandela dedicated his whole life?" Mbeki said.
The chairman of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Njabulo Ndebele, also paid tribute to Mandela, saying Mandela's legacy should be kept alive.
"His legacy lives on in all of us -- it is in our hands now," he said in a statement released by the foundation, urging South Africans to continue the good work Mandela had done in his life.
"Let us stand together now and in the days ahead, and do what needs to be done to honor with dignity Tata Madiba," he said, referring to Mandela with a name of endearment in Xhosa language.
Backgrounder: Major events in life of Nelson Mandela
Profile: South Africa's ex-president, anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela
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