World leaders and human rights activists from around the globe mourned the death of South African freedom fighter
on Thursday, praising the long-ailing 95-year-old as an inspiration to the abused and downtrodden worldwide.
"We've lost our greatest son," South African President
"Like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set. And so long as I live, I will do what I can to learn from him," Obama said of the man whom he met only once, in Washington in 2005. Mandela was too ill to receive visitors during the president's June visit to Africa.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Mandela "a singular figure on the global stage -- a man of quiet dignity and towering achievement, a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration."
British Prime Minister David Cameron sent condolences via
No. 10 is the address of the prime minister's official residence in London.
Former President Clinton, whose presidency coincided with Mandela's historic evolution from political prisoner to head of state, lamented the loss of "one of [the world's] most important leaders and one of its finest human beings."
On Capitol Hill, politicians from both sides of the aisle were united in lauding the revered freedom fighter as a man who transformed not only South Africa but also the world.
"Nelson Mandela taught us about humanity in the face of inhumanity, and left an unjust world a more just place," said Sen.
Former Republican presidential candidate
"It is hard to overstate Nelson Mandela's transformative impact on his country and the world," said U.S. Sen.
New York City Mayor
"Today, we lost one of the most transformative and influential figures in modern history. Nelson Mandela was a global icon who broke the back of apartheid in South Africa and inspired generations of people around the world with his spirit of resolve and reconciliation," Bloomberg said.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a radio interview that "Nelson Mandela was one of the great figures of Africa, arguably one of the great figures of the last century."
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, like Mandela a