Revolutionary icon Nelson Mandela — a prisoner-turned-president who reconciled South Africa after the end of apartheid — reportedly died at the age of 95 on Thursday, according to the country’s President, Jacob Zuma.
Nelson Mandela, the revered statesman who emerged from prison after 27 years to lead South Africa out of decades of apartheid, has died, South African President Jacob Zuma announced late Thursday.
Mandela will have a state funeral. Zuma ordered all flags in the nation to be flown at half-staff from Friday through that funeral.
Mandela, a former president, battled health issues in recent months, including a recurring lung infection that led to numerous hospitalizations.
With advancing age and bouts of illness, Mandela retreated to a quiet life at his boyhood home in the nation’s Eastern Cape Province, where he said he was most at peace.
Despite rare public appearances, he held a special place in the consciousness of the nation and the world.
“A hero to blacks and whites.”
In a nation healing from the scars of apartheid, Mandela became a moral compass.
His defiance of white minority rule and incarceration for fighting against segregation focused the world’s attention on apartheid, the legalized racial segregation enforced by the South African government until 1994.
In his lifetime, he was a man of complexities. He went from a militant freedom fighter, to a prisoner, to a unifying figure, to an elder statesman.
Years after his 1999 retirement from the presidency, Mandela was considered the ideal head of state. He became a yardstick for African leaders, who consistently fell short when measured against him