Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa’s first democratically elected president and a symbol of reconciliation to many around the world, has died at the age of 95.
As South Africa’s first black president, the ex-boxer, lawyer and prisoner No. 46664 paved the way to racial reconciliation with well-chosen gestures of forgiveness. Mandela, a colossus of the 20th century, emerged from 27 years in prison to topple apartheid with iron discipline, hardheaded realism and a common touch that endeared him to whites who had been conditioned to regard him as their bitter enemy.
His death closes the final chapter in Africa’s struggle to cast off white rule, leaving the world with indelible memories of a man of astonishing grace and good humor. Rock concerts celebrated his birthday, Hollywood stars glorified him on screen, and his regal bearing, graying hair and raspy voice made him instantly recognizable across the globe.
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