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Nelson Mandela, who struggled to end South Africa’s apartheid system that segregated blacks from whites and became the country’s first black president, has died at age 95 today.
Mandela had been in and out of the hospital recently and was being treated at home. His death was confirmed by South African President Jacob Zuma during a televised speech, reports The New York Times.
“Our nation has lost its greatest son,” Zuma said. “His humility, his compassion and his humanity earned him our love.”
Zuma recognized the Nobel laureate's achievements and also sent his condolences to Mandela’s family. “They have sacrificed much and endured much so that our people could be free,” he noted.
Mandela protested apartheid and spent 27 years in prison. He was not released until 1990, when he was 71, following a worldwide campaign. When he was released, he said he sought peace with those who imprisoned him, but only if blacks were given equal rights, notes USA Today.
In 1994, he was elected the country’s first black president and only served one term before stepping aside. He was presented the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
Even though he had not been seen publicly since 2010, when South Africa hosted the World Cup, his name remained an inspiration around the world.
“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter,” Mandela wrote in Long Walk To Freedom. “I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds there are many more hills to climb.”