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One year on the world remembers human rights defender Nelson Mandela

Joseph McCormick December 5, 2014

A year after his death at 95, the world is paying tribute to human rights defender Nelson Mandela.

The South African human rights campaigner Nelson Mandela died on 5 December 2013 at the age of 95.

Interfaith ceremonies across South Africa and around the world are celebrating the life of Mandela.

Three minutes and seven seconds of traditional horns and vuvuzelas will sound before three minutes of silence, in order to represent his 67 years of public service.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said South Africans should use the occasion to continue to emulate Mandela’s example.

“Our obligation to Madiba is to continue to build the society he envisaged, to follow his example,” Tutu said in a statement.

“A society founded on human rights, in which all can share in the rich bounty God bestowed on our country. In which all can live in dignity, together. A society of better tomorrows for all.”

The announcement last year was made by South African President Jacob Zuma. He said that in the last few hours of his life, Mandela was surrounded by his family.

Mandela had been receiving care in hospital for a lung infection

Mandela was a Nobel Peace Prize winner who led the battle against white-minority rule in South Africa, of which he was the first black president, elected in 1994 after 27 years in prison on Robben Island.

After the Civil Union Act came into effect in South Africa on 30 November 2006, the island became one of the first places to host a civil union ceremony.

Mr Zuma said: “He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 20:50 on the 5th December 2013.

“He is now resting, he is now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. Although we knew this day would come nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss. His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world. His humility, his compassion, and his humanity earned him their love. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family. To them we owe a debt of gratitude. They have sacrificed much and endured much so that our people could be free.”

The legendary human rights campaigner helped push for equality for gay South Africans, and helped to make South Africa the continent of Africa’s first and so far only country with same-sex marriage.

He declined his second term in 1999, instead focussing his time on work combating HIV and AIDS, and poverty through his charitable foundation.

Also speaking out against homophobia internationally, he retired from public life in 2004.

Speaking on human rights, Mandela said: “I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom… Just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.”

More: Africa, nelson mandela, South Africa

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