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Desmond Tutu: Nelson Mandela's legacy will endure

By Robyn Dixon

1:02 AM PST, December 6, 2013

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- As many South Africans woke up to the news that Nelson Mandela had died, it was Mandela's fellow Nobel laureate who provided the most comforting words.

Mandela's legacy,  Desmond Tutu said Friday, would carry on. The sun would continue to rise.

"The sun will rise tomorrow, and the next day and the next. ... It may not appear as bright as yesterday, but life will carry on," the retired Anglican bishop said in a statement.

"To suggest that South Africa might go up in flames -- as some have predicted -- is to discredit South Africans and Madiba's legacy,"  Tutu said, using Mandela's clan name, a term of affection and respect.

PHOTOS: Nelson Mandela through the years

Crowds gathered outside Mandela's home in suburban Houghton and the house where he lived in Soweto to mourn the loss of the former president and to celebrate his life.

The nation's newspapers ran dedication pages, and the South African presidency had its own tribute page.

The political party that Mandela once led and always loved compared the nation's first democratically elected president to a giant baobab tree that would nurture the country for generations.

"The large African Baobab, who loved Africa as much as he loved South Africa, has fallen. Its trunk and seeds will nourish the earth for decades to come," African National Congress Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe said in a statement.

"In the life of every nation, there arise men who leave an indelible and eternal stamp on the history of their peoples; men who are both products and makers of history. And when they pass they leave a vision of a new and better life and the tools with which to win and build it," Mantashe said.

"Madiba loved South Africa. We recall the strength of his fist punching the air as he stepped out of prison after 27 years; and his sternness during the negotiations for the freedom of our beloved country. We celebrate his ever-present smile, the cheerful Madiba jive, his love for children and great respect for the women of this country."

PHOTOS: The world reacts to Nelson Mandela's death

Former South African President F.W. De Klerk, who shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela, told local media Mandela was a visionary leader who made a unique contribution to creating South Africa's constitutional democracy.

"It was with the greatest sadness that I have learned of the death of Nelson Mandela. My wife, Elita, and I would like to convey our deepest condolences to his wife Graça Machel, the Mandela family and their friends, to the ANC and indeed to the entire South African nation," De Klerk said.

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Twitter: @latimesdixon

robyn.dixon@latimes.com