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World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15

- The Washington Times - Friday, December 6, 2013

The president of South African said Friday that Nelson Mandela's body will be taken to his ancestral village of Qunu where he will be buried on Dec. 15 alongside three of his deceased children.

President Jacob Zuma said there will be a memorial service for Mr. Mandela in a Johannesburg stadium on Dec. 10. He said Mr. Mandela's body will lie in state government buildings in Pretoria from Dec. 11 until the burial.

People from across the globe, meanwhile, continued to mourn the loss of Mr. Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95.

They celebrated the life of a man whose fight against South African's apartheid regime made him an international icon and helped him become the nation's first black president.

In Washington, the flags at The White House flew at half-staff in his honor. President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will travel to South Africa next week, Politico reported Friday.

In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was lit up in the colors of the South African flag. And in Johannesburg, crowds gathered at Mr. Mandela's home, where mourners celebrated "Mandiba," who spent 27 years in prison for his armed militancy against South Africa's apartheid regime.

James Baker, who served as chief of staff to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, recalled how Mr. Mandela was talking about "reconciliation and forgiveness" when he met with him shortly after his release from prison in 1990.

"He really was a man of endearing and enduring dignity," Mr. Baker said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "He was just a very beautiful human being and when you dealt with him, you met with him, he was very reserved. He was very careful in his language, and yet he had come from a background of revolution. He was one of the few leaders that I can think of who successfully made the transition from being a revolutionary to being a statesman."

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said that Mr. Mandela made a point to have his jailers sit in the front row at his inauguration in 1994. "He may be gone physically, but his spirit will live on forever," Mr. Powell said on CBS' "This Morning."

Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, said Mr. Mandela had the courage of his convictions.

"He placed his life on the line for freedom and for justice and for equality," Mrs. Waters said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "The lesson for all of us is even in the face of adversity, you have to stand up for justice. You have to fight for what is right, and you will be demonized. You will be called radical — all of those things. But if you know that something like apartheid, racism, etc., exists, you should fight no matter what the consequences may be."

"The legacy for us is you can win, and if you are on the right side, you will win," she said.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair showered Mr. Mandela with compliments on CNN's "New Day" saying he was a very fun and relaxed individual who carried a quiet humility.

Mr. Blair shared the story of how Mr. Mandela attended an annual Labor Party conference after he had left the presidency and introduced himself to guests by saying "I'm unemployed" and "I have a criminal record."

Mr. Blair said that Mr. Mandela had a different meaning for different people.

"I think for a lot of people in Western countries, he made racism seem stupid and old-fashioned and irrelevant — as well as wrong," Mr. Blair said. "He had that quality because his greatness as a leader was so obvious. He just stood, frankly, taller than everybody else."

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