(AFP) – 3 hours ago
London — British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday said “a great light had gone out” following Nelson Mandela’s death as flags flew at half-mast at his Downing Street Office.
“Nelson Mandela was a towering figure in our time; a legend in life and now in death — a true global hero,” said Cameron.
“Across the country he loved they will be mourning a man who was the embodiment of grace,” he added.
“Meeting him was one of the great honours of my life. My heart goes out to his family — and to all in South Africa and around the world whose lives were changed through his courage.
“A great light has gone out in the world.”
Opposition leader Ed Miliband said the world “had lost the global hero of our age”.
“Nelson Mandela showed us the true meaning of courage, hope, and reconciliation,” he stressed.
“From campaigner to prisoner to president to global hero, Nelson Mandela will always be remembered for his dignity, integrity and his values of equality and justice.
“He moved the world and the world will miss him deeply.”
London mayor Boris Johnson praised Mandela’s power of forgiveness.
“He faced down the tyranny and oppression of apartheid by embracing unity, by rejecting division, by proving without rancour or recrimination that his way was the right way, the best way, and the only way to bring about change,” he said.
“Londoners, brought up in a city where the values of diversity and equality were celebrated not suppressed, forged a unique bond with Mandela and the struggle he embodied.
“He was without doubt the pre-eminent statesman of his age. No statesman in history can match him for resilience, for grace, and for forgiveness.
“A great heart is stilled.”
Former prime minister Tony Blair said Mandela had made racism “not just immoral but stupid”.
“He was a wonderful man to be around, with a sharp wit, extraordinary political savvy and a lovely way of charming everyone in a building,” recalled Blair.
“Through his dignity, grace and the quality of his forgiveness, he made racism everywhere not just immoral but stupid; something not only to be disagreed with, but to be despised. In its place he put the inalienable right of all humankind to be free and to be equal,” he added.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, head of the world’s Anglicans, mourned the loss of South Africa’s “greatest citizen and its father.”
“Nelson Mandela, fighting to the end, is freed to be with his God in joy and reward for his great service and sacrifice.
“We pray for his family, for his friends and for his country,” added the archbishop.
Irish prime minister Enda Kenny paid tribute to the “gift” of Mandela, and offered the country’s deepest sympathies to the people of South Africa.
“The name Mandela stirred our conscience and our hearts. It became synonymous with the pursuit of dignity and freedom across the globe,” he said in a statement.
“As we mark his passing, we give thanks for the gift of Nelson Mandela. We ask that his spirit continues to inspire, guide and enlighten us as we strive to bring freedom and dignity to the family of man, our brothers and sisters, across the world,” he added.
Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond said the world has lost a “towering statesman and outstanding political leader.”
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