News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Dec. 6, 2013: The boy born into the Madiba clan in Mvezo, a small village not far from Mthatha in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, on July 18, 1918, turned into a man that the world paused to remember Thursday as news of his death quickly made its way around the globe. At 95 years old, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela joined the ancestors, leaving the world united in mourning – black and white, rich and poor, old and young, and definitely Caribbean and Latin American.
Twitter, the technology that Mandela managed to see in his life time, became the place for fans of all walks of life, including celebrities from the Latin America and Caribbean regions to voice their emotions.
CELEBRITIES WEIGH IN
“Today the world lost one of it’s greatest leaders. Rest in peace Mandela,” tweeted Mexican American actress Eva Langoria.
Bajan singer Rihanna took to Twitter soon after to write: “#NelsonMandela you made your people proud!! We’ll always love you for it! One of the greatest men who’s ever lived!!!” while Trinidad-born rapper Nicki Minaj stated: “A complete and fulfilled life of a King. We could never repay you for your dedicated, passionate fight against injustice. We enjoy the very liberties you gave your freedom for. Your legacy will never die. Thank you, and may God bless your soul.”
Jamaican dance hall star, Sean Paul called Mandela “an amazing inspiration” while Actress Zoe Saldana, of Dominican ancestry added: “An Angel has left this earth today. #RIPNelsonMandela. An inspirational force that left behind lessons we should practice everyday.”
Singer Pitbull, who is of Puerto Rican descent tweeted: “RIP Nelson Mandela. You are now truly free. God Bless and enjoy the heavens. Tell Celia Cruz hello for me and azucaaaaarrrr” while Brazilian football legend Pele declared: “He was a friend and a companion in the popular fight and the fight for world peace.”
Mandela led South Africa’s transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s, after 27 years in prison. He had been receiving intense home-based medical care for a lung infection after three months in hospital.
In a statement on South African national television President Jacob Zuma said the Nobel Prize winner had “departed” and was at peace at 9 p.m. South Africa time Thursday.
Heads of state across the Caribbean and Latin America also offered up condolences.
In Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro declared three days of national mourning.
“Nine months since the passing of our comandante (Hugo Chavez), another giant of the people of the world passed away today. Madiba you will live forever!” Maduro said on Twitter.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in an official statement, expressed her condolences to Mandela’s family and all South Africans, saying Brazil treasures the memory of the great leader, who helped abolish South Africa’s apartheid system.
Mandela’s example “will guide all those who fight for social justice and for peace in the world,” said Rousseff. “His fight became a paradigm not only for the African continent but also for all those who fight for justice, freedom and equality.”
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) too joined world leaders in paying tribute to Mandela, who served 27 years in prison for his opposition to the segregationist regime in South Africa, and then went on to become the nation’s first black president.
CARICOM chairman and Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, said the world has lost a freedom fighter and statesman.
“The world has lost democracy’s most loyal friend and advocate. Nelson Mandela was the 20th century’s icon of freedom and liberty. He inspired us to believe that no obstacle is too large; no walk is too long, and no enemy of freedom is so powerful, that we should ever consider giving in,” she stated, adding that he will forever be remembered as a man who fought for freedom and won it for millions around the world.
In St. Kitts-Nevis, Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas said “the name of Nelson Mandela will live throughout the ages.”
“Through this, he gave to leaders everywhere a governance model worthy of emulation. And from this, the people of the new, democratic South Africa have benefited greatly,” he added.
In Jamaica, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller was quoted on Twitter as saying: “#Mandela devoted his life to the ideal that the dignity of the human person was a God given right.”
Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said that the “world is now a poorer and darker place for his passing.”
“We in Barbados share the grief and sense of loss which has suddenly enveloped not only his native South Africa but the world of which he was so unique and so distinguished a citizen,” added Stuart.
IN THE U.S.
U.S. President Barack Obama signed a proclamation directing all flags be lowered to half-staff beginning immediately and until sunset Monday, December 9th
“Today he’s gone home, and 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,” U.S. President Barack Obama said.
The U.N. Security Council in New York was in session when the ambassadors received news of Mandela’s death. They stopped their meeting and stood for a minute’s silence.
“Nelson Mandela was a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters. “Nelson Mandela showed what is possible for our world and within each one of us if we believe, dream and work together for justice and humanity.”
While New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Mandela “a global icon who broke the back of apartheid in South Africa and inspired generations of people around the world with his spirit of resolve and reconciliation.”
“He devoted his life to building a more just, equal and compassionate world, and we are all better for it,” he added, noting flags at City Hall will be lowered to half-staff as well.
And just like that, Mandela’s words took on new life and served as a poignant reminder to those across the world to take a closer look at the lives they live.
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived,” he once said. “It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”