By Ndumiso Mlilo
JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Condolence messages are pouring in for the late former South African president, Nelson Mandela.
The world plunged into mourning when Mandela did breathe his last breath on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 at 8:50 p.m. local time.
Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary General, consoled Mandela's family, South Africa and the world on Mandela's passing away.
The UN chief said in a statement, "Nelson Mandela was a singular figure on the global stage, a man of quiet dignity and towering achievement, 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. At the same time, no one did more in our time to advance the values and aspirations of the United Nations."
The UN secretary general said Mandela's 27 years in jail and reconciliation should be used as a model for the world to emulate. He called on the world to build on contributions made by Mandela in promoting a culture of peace and freedom around the world.
The UN Security Council described the late Mandela as an inspiration to the world in the condolence message.
The Security Council in 2009 agreed upon the Nelson Mandela International Day, the first ever international day in honor of an individual.
In the condolence message, the Security Council said, "He was an inspirational leader who transformed the lives of millions of people around the world. His lifelong fight against racial oppression and his decisive role in shaping the peaceful transition to a united and democratic South Africa are a lasting legacy to his country and to the world."
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang sent messages of condolence to South African President Jacob Zuma to express their heartfelt sympathies.
Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao would go to the South African Embassy in Beijing to pay respects to this old friend of the Chinese people, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced.
U. S. President Barack Obama telephoned his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma to console him.
"The strong and historic partnership between the United States and South Africa will continue to draw strength from Mandela's legacy as we work together to promote equality, reconciliation and human dignity, and to build a more just and prosperous world," Obama said.
Zelda la Grange, a personal assistant to Mandela, expressed sorrow at the passing away of Nelson Mandela, saying Mandela will live forever in the books, films and in her life.
Grange stated, "His legacy will not only live on in everything that has been named after him, the books, the images, the movies. It will live on in how we feel when we hear his name, the respect and love, the unity he inspired in us as a country but particularly how we relate to one-another."
Ahmed Kathrada, Mandela's friend who served with him in the South African jail for years, expressed sadness over the death of Mandela.
"You embodied the epitome of respect for your fellow beings, and the ability to relate easily to every strata of society. Your abundant reserves of love, simplicity, honesty, service, humility, care, courage, foresight, patience, tolerance, equality and justice continually served as a source of enormous strength to me and so many millions of people around the world," said Kathrada.
Mzwandile Masina, the convenor of the African National Congress (ANC), told Xinhua that some people were singing praises for Mandela, doing poetry, some imitating how he talks while some were visibly crying.
"Mandela and others formed the ANC Youth League in 1944 and agreed that they will achieve freedom in their life time and we are learning from them that we will achieve economic freedom in our lifetime and excellence in education which was one of Mandela' s wish," Masina said.
At Mandela's house at Houghton, people gathered singing and putting flowers, condolence messages and cards and his photos. Mandela is the first black president. He was incarcerated for 27 years for fighting apartheid and was elected president after his release.
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