Nelson Mandela, revered peacemaker, passed away on December 5, Thursday, in Johannesburg at age 95.

“Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father,” South African President Jacob Zuma said as quoted by CNN.com. “What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.”

Mandela, affectionately called by his clan name Madiba, was a freedom fighter who had been imprisoned for 27 years for “illegal exit of the country and incitement to strike,” reports CNN.com. He fought against white minority rule and racial segregation in South Africa, serving as a symbol of strength and hope to his people for decades.

After his release from prison, Mandela chose to pursue peace instead of vengeance. Four years later, he became his nation’s first black president. Despite the expected violent transition from apartheid to multiracial democracy, South Africa avoided a full-fledged civil war under his leadership.

“We've lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth,” said US President Barrack Obama who, according to BBC.com, ordered the White House flag to be flown half-mast.

“He no longer belongs to us—he belongs to the ages.”

(Photo by South Africa The Good News via Flickr Creative Commons)

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