Nelson Mandela has passed away.
The announcement was made late Thursday afternoon, by current South African President Jacob Zuma.
Mandela spent most of his life as the face of South Africa's struggle against institutionalised racism, poverty, and inequality.
He started his crusade as a political activist, eventually becoming president of South Africa (from 1994 to 1999).
He is the first black South African to hold the office, and the first politician to be elected in a fully representative, multiracial election.
Mandela spent 27 years behind bars as the world's most well-known political prisoner -- just one chapter in his fight against Apartheid.
In 1961, Mandela became the most wanted man in South Africa.
When he dimissed the notion that apartheid can be defeated without using violence.
It wasn't long after that, Mandela was on trial for treason: He faced the death penalty.
At his trial, a defiant Mandela donned traditional tribal dress and issued this plea, for the freedom of ALL South Africans.
At 46 years old, Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison, by the 1980's, Mandela's story had made him a legend at home and across the world.
On February 11th, 1990 Mandela took his first steps as a free man in 27 years. The government refused him permission to attend the funeral of his mother and of a son who was killed in a car crash. He was released from prison in 1990, days after apartheid ended.
Mandela was the glue that kept South Africa together, as the country teetered on the brink of civil war. A white minority, resisting calls for open elections.
Mandela will be remembered for his tireless work to unite his country, his fight for democracy. It culminated with South Africa's first free presidential election in 1994; an election that Mandela won -- with more than 62% of the vote.
Mandela died at the age of 95.
Leaders across the country have released notes, or statements of condolence.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper took to twitter to get his message of condolence out:
Premier Kathleen Wynne released a statement reading:
"There are few people who have done more to inspire the world than Nelson Mandela, and I am deeply saddened to learn of his death.
As a student of history and a huge believer in the power of the human spirit, I know his life will continue to serve as a beacon for change, throughout South Africa and around the world. He taught us that nothing is impossible, that we have a responsibility to one another, and that courage is the triumph over fear.
The world is better for his presence, and we all mourn his loss."
Mayor Rob Ford first released a statement and then spoke about the death of Mandela. This is the statement:
We join the people of South Africa in mourning the loss of Nelson Mandela, a true leader and advocate for freedom and democracy.
Mandela dedicated his life to social justice in South Africa and around the world. As President of South Africa, he introduced a new constitution and launched numerous reforms and policies for the benefit of all South African people.
Toronto and Canada had a special connection with Nelson Mandela. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family and the people of South Africa.
Govenor General David Johnston also released a statement:
When history speaks of the very best examples of humanity, we will speak of Nelson Mandela. His life was dedicated to the greater good. He held strong beliefs and did not give up on his dreams. He was a driving force for change and cared for the well-being of others. We have all learned so much from his fortitude, dedication and compassion. Throughout his life, he overcame many hardships to become a powerful global figure for peace and equality; the legacy he leaves cannot be understated.
All across our nation, we hold him in the highest regard, evidenced by his investment into the Order of Canada as an Honorary Companion and an honorary citizen of our country.
On behalf of all Canadians, Sharon and I would like to send our deepest condolences to Mr. Mandela’s family, and to all South Africans.
And we heard from Lieutenant Govenor David Onley:
I join with Ontarians and people across the globe in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela.
Throughout decades of Apartheid oppression, Mr. Mandela was a beacon of hope to black South Africans and an inspiration to the people of every nation.
During his extraordinary life, he went from being branded as a terrorist in his own country and imprisoned for 27 years, to becoming South Africa’s first black president and a seeker of international peace and social justice.
Despite the injustice and suffering of his imprisonment, on his release he refused to allow bitterness and revenge to take root. Instead, he endorsed the setting up of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which became a model for countries around the world including Canada.
In 1990, Nelson Mandela delivered a speech to a joint session of Canada’s parliament, during which he pointed out the irony that he was prevented by Apartheid policies from speaking to parliament in his own country.
In subsequent visits to this country, he became the first foreign leader to be appointed as an honorary Companion of the Order of Canada in 1998 and, in 2001, the first living recipient of honorary Canadian citizenship.
Speaking to more than 40,000 children in Toronto during his 1998 visit, he said Canada was his “home away from home”.
Nelson Mandela’s defiance, courage during personal suffering, and extraordinary capacity for forgiveness, make him an exemplar of leadership, humility, compassion and magnanimity.
As the Queen’s representative in the province, and on behalf of the people of Ontario, I send condolences to Mr. Mandela’s wife and family.
Nelson Mandela was not just a great South African; he was a role model for all humankind and he will be sorely missed.
May he rest in peace.