South African President Zuma on Mandela’s death: ‘Our people have lost a father’

December 5, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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GWEN IFILL: Nelson Mandela’s death was formally announced late today by South Africa’s current president, Jacob Zuma.

He expressed the country’s love and sense of loss for their iconic leader, often referred to, out of respect, by his clan name, Madiba.

PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA, South Africa: Our beloved Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding president of our democratic nation, has departed.

He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 20:50 on the 5th of December, 2013. He is now resting. He is now at peace.

Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss. His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world.

His humility, his compassion, and his humanity earned him their love. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family. Our thoughts are with the South African people, who today mourn the loss of the one person who, more than any other, came to embody their sense of a common nationhood.

Our thoughts are with the millions of people across the world who embraced Madiba as their own and who saw his cause as their cause.

This is the moment of our deepest sorrow. Our nation has lost its greatest son.

Yet, what made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.  

As we gather, wherever we are in the country and wherever we are in the world, let us recall the values for which Madiba fought. Let us reaffirm his vision of a society in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another.

Let us commit ourselves to strive together — sparing neither strength nor courage — to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

Let us express, each in our own way, the deep gratitude we feel for a life spent in service of the people of this country and in the cause of humanity.

 That is indeed the moment of our deepest sorrow. Yet it must also be the moment of our greatest determination, a determination to live as Madiba has lived, to strive as Madiba has strived, and to not rest until we have realized his vision of a truly united South Africa, a peaceful and prosperous Africa, and a better world.

We will always love you, Madiba. May your soul rest in peace.

God bless Africa.

JUDY WOODRUFF: That was South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma.