After Nelson Mandela died on Dec. 5 at the age of 95, President Obama, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush, and a bevy of celebrities are remembering the beloved former South African president’s amazing legacy.
The world is heartbroken after Nelson Mandela sadly passed away on Dec.5, 2013 at home in Houghton, South Africa. The revolutionary leader — who had been suffering from a recurring lung infection and was frequently in the hospital over the last year — will never be forgotten. Nelson has touched so many lives, including that of former professional boxer Muhammad Ali, who released a touching statement praising the late leader on Dec. 5.
Nelson Mandela’s Death — President Obama & Celebrities React
Muhammad expressed his admiration for Nelson and the impact he had on the world, saying:
I am deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Mandela. His was a life filled with purpose and hope; hope for himself, his country and the world. He inspired others to reach for what appeared to be impossible and moved them to break through the barriers that held them hostage mentally, physically, socially and economically. He made us realize, we are our brother’s keeper and that our brothers come in all colors. What I will remember most about Mr.Mandela is that he was a man whose heart, soul and spirit could not be contained or restrained by racial and economic injustices, metal bars or the burden of hate and revenge. He taught us forgiveness on a grand scale. His was a spirit born free, destined to soar above the rainbows. Today his spirit is soaring through the heavens. He is now forever free.
President Barack Obama also released a statement about Nelson, saying, “I cannot imagine my own life without Mandela’s example.” The nation’s first black president, who met Nelson in 2005 when he was a senator in Illinois, adds that we should all aspire to be more like Nelson. “May Nelson Mandela’s life of service to others and his unwavering commitment to equality, reconciliation, and human dignity continue to be a beacon for each future generation seeking a more just and prosperous world.”
Nelson also made a lasting impression on former President Bill Clinton, who tweeted:
I will never forget my friend Madiba. pic.twitter.com/UX21ZZG7cg
— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) December 5, 2013
Former President George W. Bush also paid tribute to Nelson in a statement, saying:
Laura and I join the people of South Africa and the world in celebrating the life of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. President Mandela was one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our time. He bore his burdens with dignity and grace, and our world is better off because of his example. This good man will be missed, but his contributions will live on forever. Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathy to President Mandela’s family and to the citizens of the nation he loved.
Tyra Banks, Samuel L. Jackson & More Celebrities React To Nelson Mandela’s Death
Actor Morgan Freeman released a statement about Nelson’s passing, saying:
Today the world lost one of the true giants of the past century. Nelson Mandela was a man of incomparable honor, unconquerable strength, and unyielding resolve—a saint to many, a hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind. As we remember his triumphs, let us, in his memory, not just reflect on how far we’ve come, but on how far we have to go. Madiba may no longer be with us, but his journey continues on with me and with all of us.
TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein said in a statement:
One of the privileges of making movies is having the opportunity to immortalize those who have made a profound impact on humanity. We count ourselves unspeakably fortunate to have been immersed in Nelson Mandela’s story and legacy. It’s been an honor to have been granted such proximity to a man who will go down as one of history’s greatest freedom fighters and advocates for justice. I have had the privilege of spending time with President Mandela and I can say his sense of humor was as great as his optimism. We are deeply saddened by his loss; our hearts go out to his family and the entire South African nation.
Actor Idris Elba said in a statement, “What an honor it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
U2’s Bono remembers Nelson:
It was as if he was born to teach the age a lesson in humility, in humour and above all else in patience. In the end, Nelson Mandela showed us how to love rather than hate, not because he had never surrendered to rage or violence, but because he learnt that love would do a better job. Mandela played with the highest stakes. He put his family, his country, his time, his life on the line, and he won most of these contests. Stubborn til the end for all the right reasons, it felt like he very nearly outstared his maker. Today, finally, he blinked. And some of us cry, knowing our eyes were opened to so much because of him.
Anant Singh, producer of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, on Nelson’s passing:
We have lost our father, an exceptional human being, a hero to the world. There has never been anyone quite like him and there will never be. We should be inspired by his life and celebrate him with our love. We will all miss him dearly. Our love, thoughts and prayers are with Mama Winnie, Mrs Machel, Zenani, Zindzi, Maki and the entire Mandela Family during this difficult time.
Actor Dennis Haysbert said:
Portraying Nelson Mandela in the film “Goodbye Bafana” was a defining moment in my life and my career. We as a society, have been blessed to live in a time that Nelson Mandela has lived, loved, and led. What he has done for his country, his countrymen, and everyone on this planet may not be achieved again… ever. I will always honor him as a saint.
Here are some celebs who have tweeted about the heartbreaking news:
#NelsonMandela you made your people proud!! We’ll always love you for it!
— Rihanna (@rihanna) December 5, 2013
— Rihanna (@rihanna) December 5, 2013
An amazing man with great wisdom. Rest in peace Nelson Mandela http://t.co/CVah39YM9n
— Khloé (@KhloeKardashian) December 5, 2013
I’m hearing about Nelson Mandela’s death while on African soil in Oran, Algeria. Sending prayers to Mandela’s family. pic.twitter.com/i5ONBP9Xez
— Mike Tyson (@MikeTyson) December 5, 2013
Never met a better person in my life than Nelson Mandela. My sympathy to his family & his country.
— Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) December 5, 2013
So sad to read of the passing of the symbol of global resistance to racism. RIP Nelson Mandela
— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) December 5, 2013
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) December 5, 2013
— Sandra Bernhard (@SandraBernhard) December 5, 2013
Rest in eternal peace, love and light #NelsonMandela
— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) December 5, 2013
— David Gregory (@davidgregory) December 5, 2013
RIP to @NelsonMandela A Great Man who had Great Resolve n Courage to fight for a Greater World. Long Live Mandela!! God Bless
— CedEntertainer (@CedEntertainer) December 5, 2013
@NelsonMandela, 95 powerful years on this earth yet freedom for INFINITY because of you. You are an angel that will live forever.
— Tyra Banks (@tyrabanks) December 5, 2013
“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” ~Nelson Mandela
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) December 5, 2013
Oh Mandela, rest in peaceful freedom.
— olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) December 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela, rest in peace. What an unbelievable legacy…
— Neil Patrick Harris (@ActuallyNPH) December 5, 2013
There is a party in heaven. Angels are celebrating. The one and only #NelsonMandela has arrived. RIP
— Ricky Martin (@ricky_martin) December 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela’s Accomplishments
Nelson is credited for establishing South Africa’s democracy. After serving 27 years in prison for fighting apartheid, he became a major international figure. Along with the F.W. de Klerk, the South African President in 1993, Nelson won the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1994, Nelson was elected as the president of South Africa, and served one term, through 1999. He became an icon and a greatly admired leader. In 2012, South Africa printed a new set of banknotes, featuring Nelson smiling on the front of them as a tribute to him.
Even after Nelson’s presidency was over, he remained active in mediating conflicts from Africa to the Middle East.
Nelson once said, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” He has influenced an incredible number of lives and will be missed tremendously.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones at this time.
WATCH: Nelson Mandela Dead At 95
— Tierney McAfee