Moments after it was announced that Nelson Mandela had died on Thursday (December 5), leaders and luminaries from President Barack Obama to Rev. Jesse Jackson took to Twitter to honor and mourn the iconic anti-apartheid leader.
The former South African president, who helped to end almost 50 years of racial segregation by a white minority government in South Africa, died today at the age of 95 after a prolonged battle with lung infection.
Soon after the announcement of his death, Mandela’s Twitter account sent out a fitting and moving quote: “Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people & his country, he can rest in peace.”
“Death is something inevitable.When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people&his country,he can rest in peace” #Madiba
— NelsonMandela (@NelsonMandela) December 5, 2013
Various icons and leaders soon followed suit, with New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg tweeting, “Nelson Mandela devoted his life to building a more just, equal, and compassionate world. We are all better for it,” then linked to a brief statement on his website. Senator John McCain said, simply, “RIP Nelson Mandela, whose courage and character inspired South Africa and the world,” then linked to recent remarks he made following a screening of the film “Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom.”
Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson shared a photo of him with Mandela, saying, “Remembering Nelson Mandela today, in his passing, a true pioneer and inspiration in my life. I am honored to have known him during his 95 years.” Former President Bill Clinton also shared a photo of him with the civil rights leader, saying “I will never forget my friend Madiba.”
I will never forget my friend Madiba. pic.twitter.com/UX21ZZG7cg
— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) December 5, 2013
President Barack Obama’s Twitter account tweeted remarks made Thursday by the President about the luminary: “President Obama remembers Nelson Mandela: ’A man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice.'”
President Obama remembers Nelson Mandela: "A man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice."
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 5, 2013
Many icons and leaders had also shared personal experiences with Mandela. Larry King tweeted a photo of himself and the leader, while Anderson Cooper recalled: “I remember Soweto. Election day 1994. Standing in line with elderly South Africans voting for the first time in their lives.”
Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, remembered spending Thanksgiving with Mandela in 2007, writing in a formal statement, “I was struck by how warm, open, and serene he was. I stood in his tiny cell on Robben Island, a room with barely enough space to lie down or stand up, and I learned that the glare of the white rock quarry permanently damaged his eyesight. It hit home even more just how remarkable it was that after spending 27 years locked away, after having his own vision impaired by the conditions, that this man could still see the best interests of his country and even embrace the very guards who kept him prisoner. That is the story of a man whose ability to see resided not in his eyes but in his conscience. It is hard to imagine any of us could summon such strength of character.”
Sad to hear about the passing of Nelson Mandela – he was the greatest figure of the 20th century – a fascinating man pic.twitter.com/hsqfltcyO9
— Larry King (@kingsthings) December 5, 2013
Others chose to tweet brief, personal statements about the leader. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin wrote, “Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela. A true inspiration & role model for peace & international collaboration. We will continue to learn from him” while New Jersey Senator Cory Booker tweeted, “Humanity has lost one of our greatest. RIP Nelson Mandela. Thank you for teaching us a deeper meaning of love, leadership & sacrifice.”
Musician Paul Simon chose to forgo social media and send MTV News his statement directly: “Mandela was one of the great leaders and teachers of the twentieth century,” he said. “He conceived a model for mortal enemies to overcome their hatred and find a way through compassion to rebuild a nation based on truth, justice and the power of forgiveness. His passing should reignite a worldwide effort for peace.”
As the minutes tick by, celebrities, leaders and citizens of the world alike are taking to social media to commemorate Nelson Mandela — a barrage of support that is a testament to his life and legacy.