The World Reports: The Death of 95-Year-Old South African Icon Nelson Mandela

Mandela died on Thursday after years of respiratory struggles. He was the country's first black President, elected in 1994.

Former South African president Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95 on Thursday

South African president Nelson Mandela died on Thursday at the age of 95, after suffering in recent years and after being confined to a hospital bed for the past few months.

The man lovingly known as Madiba, born in 1918, was an icon for many reasons and many roles he played. He was an anti-apartheid crusader, the first president of democratic South Africa, and a political prisoner who spent 27 years in jail – the majority of that time locked away on Robben Island.

Mandela was released from prison in 1990, and was voted president of his country in 1994.

“Our nation has lost its greatest son,” said current South African president Jacob Zuma on Thursday (CBC News). “Our people have lost a father.”


Everyone rushed to report the news of Mandela’s death on Thursday, and that included those in the sports world. Acclaimed Canadian columnist Stephen Brunt, for Sportsnet, had one of the day’s more original pieces, documenting Mandela’s history, career, and life as a boxer.

From Brunt:

Mandela was a boxer, remember. And though he did indeed go on to address the importance of the moment, the first thing he wanted to talk about was the fight.

As Mandela lay dying, so many paused to once more appreciate one of the towering figures of our time.

Sport is a tiny footnote in the larger story, but this is also one of those rare instances when the games we play to entertain and distract ourselves actually take on a meaning far beyond sports writers’ clichés.


Nelson Mandela Quote

You can always count on Buzzfeed on days like these, and they hit the mark with several of their trademark lists, all in tribute to Mandela.

1. 15 Of Nelson Mandela’s Most Inspiring Quotes

(My personal favourite: “Know your enemy – and learn about his favourite sport.”)

2. Nelson Mandela’s Death, As Told By Newspaper Front Pages

(The Guardian is, of course, in here. But it’s the very first one – that blacked out cover from The Daily Telegraph – that deserves top honours.)

3. President Obama’s Statement On The Death Of Nelson Mandela

“I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s life. My very first political action, the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics, was a protest against apartheid. I studied his words and his writings. The day that he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not by their fears. And like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set, and so long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him.”


If movies are your style – of course they are – you can always watch and then re-watch the trailer of the brand-new film starring Idris Elba, who takes on playing the younger Mandela before prison as well as the man who was jailed on Robben Island.

Or, you can just go and see the movie.

Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom was released on November 28, and has already become South Africa’s highest-grossing movie (Vancouver Sun).


Britain’s The Independent knocked Twitter out of the park today:


In The Guardian, reporter Hugh Muir writes that Mandela was “a beacon for black Britain, too.”

From Muir:

“Why was he important here and why particularly to black Britain? Because he epitomised journey and epitomised struggle… The journey from feisty lawyer to rebel leader to war leader. His trajectory from Robben Island and the other jails, where over 27 years his body grew old but not his spirit; to the presidency, elected by the first multiracial ballot. All of us who yearn to move our narrative forward and only ever manage to do so in feet and inches marvelled at a man who looked like us and who made history with a people against fantastic odds in leaps and bounds. We admired him, and that appeal was magnified by the quality of enemies he attracted.

“And yet his true impact was as a unifier on our shores, even during his imprisonment. The long campaign here, in his support and against the tyranny of apartheid played a crucial and continuing role in bringing Britons of many backgrounds together over two generations.”


Reporter Sean Leathong, out of Hamilton’s CHCH TV station, was at Toronto’s Nelson Mandela Public School, where students held a tribute for their institution’s namesake:


Archbishop Desmong Tutu wrote a column for The Independent, writing about his friend Mandela and also his past as a “former terrorist” and as a man who served 27 years in prison and came out of it changed, “tempered in the fire of adversity”…

“It gave him a new depth, helped him to be more understanding of the foibles of others, to be more generous, more tolerant, more magnanimous and it gave him an unassailable credibility and integrity, and so he could be as he was when he emerged from prison, willing to extend a hand of friendship to his former adversaries and be generous when they were vanquished.

“He lived out the understanding that an enemy is a friend waiting to be made.”


Black Press reporter Jeff Nagel documented social media’s reaction to Madiba’s death for the Surrey Leader, with the following Storify:

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