Civil Rights

Nelson Mandela, 'a giant among men' who taught us the meaning of the rule of law, dies at 95

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Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela, a longtime political prisoner who went on to become globally recognized as an inspirational leader of his country and win the Nobel Peace Prize, died peacefully amidst his family Thursday night at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was 95 years old.

Convicted and sentenced to a life prison term for a sabotage plot against South Africa, the African National Congress leader served 27 years before he was released in 1990 and elected president in 1994 in the country’s first multiracial elections. A year earlier, he and predecessor F.W. de Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize for their work to end apartheid.

A Reuters article provides excerpts of what Mandela said in a defense statement at his trial. An Associated Press reporter on the scene describes, in an article published at the time, the day when Mandela was released from prison.

The Associated Press, the BBC News, CNN, Fox News, the New York Times (reg. req.), the Telegraph, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) and the Washington Post (reg. req.) are among the publications with stories about Mandela’s death.

It was announced Thursday night, but many did not hear of it until Friday, when the accolades began pouring in praising Mandela as a symbol of freedom and democracy.

“The American Bar Association recognizes Nelson Mandela for his courage in life and the lesson he taught a grateful world—that there is a stark difference between the rule of law and rule by law,” said ABA President James R. Silkenat in a written statement.

“A giant among men has passed away. This is as much India’s loss as South Africa’s,” said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India. He compared Mandela to his country’s former world-revered voice for nonviolence and independence, Mohandas K. Gandhi, the Associated Press reports.

“He was a true Gandhian,” said Singh of Mandela. “His life and work will remain a source of eternal inspiration for generations to come.”

A full state funeral is planned on Dec. 15, which President Barack Obama is expected to attend, and he has ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff. The South African Embassy, in cooperation with the mayor of Washington, D.C., has planned a week of tributes to Mandela there, as the Washington Post (reg. req.) details.

See also:

ABA Journal: “10 trials that changed the world”

ABA Journal: “Nelson Mandela is spared from a death sentence”

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