Former South African President and global leader Nelson Mandela has died at his Johannesburg home after an ongoing health battle. He was 95.
South African President Jacob Zuma confirmed the news Thursday (Dec. 5), stating: "He is now resting. He is now at peace. [...] Our nation has lost his greatest son. Our people have lost their father."
Following his nearly three-month stay at a Pretoria hospital, Mandela-- affectionately known by his clan name Madiba-- returned home on Sept. 1 in critical condition where he was surrounded by close friends and family. He had been hospitalized since June for a recurring lung infection.
"What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human," Zuma continued. "We saw in him what we seek in ourselves."
Officials say a state funeral will be held to honor his storied legacy. All flags have been ordered to be flown at half-staff from Friday through the funeral.
"We have lost one of the most influential, courageous & profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "[...] His journey from a prisoner to a President embodied the promise that human beings-- and countries-- can change for the better."
As a member of the African National Congress party in the 1940s, Mandela was an advocate for peaceful protests while fighting for civil rights in a racially-divided South Africa. His resistance landed him in prison for 27 years but, in turn, transformed him into the face of the anti-apartheid movement.
Upon his release in 1990, he continued his push to demand equal rights and was elected as the first Black president of South Africa in 1994. From his last day in office to his final day on this earth, Mandela continuously endorsed a message of peace and social justice for his home country and the world alike.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time.
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(Photo: Adrian Steirn/Nelson Mandela Foundation/Getty Images)