There has been an outpouring of concern in South Africa and around the world for the transformative figure who led the tense shift from apartheid’s white minority rule to democracy two decades ago. Zuma urged South Africans to accept that Mandela had grown old and frail, saying all they could do was pray for him.
Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is feted around the world as a towering figure of reconciliation. Despite being jailed for his prominent role in opposing white racist rule, Mandela was seemingly free of rancor on his release in 1990, becoming the unifying leader who led South Africa through a delicate transition to all-race elections that propelled him to the presidency four years later.
The United Nations has recognized Mandela’s birthday, July 18, as an international day to honor themes of activism, democracy and responsibility embodied by the former leader.