President Obama is expected to confirm very soon that he will be in attendance at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, according to David Jackson of USA Today. The White House has apparently held off on making any sort of formal announcement as officials work out the travel plans.
Nelson Mandela dead at 95
Nelson Mandela died Thursday at the age of 95. The freedom fighter’s funeral will be part of a longer 10-day mourning period in South Africa.
President Obama ordered all U.S. flags be flown at half-staff through Monday to honor Mandela. He issued a proclamation stating that the U.S. “has lost a close friend” and that South Africa lost “an incomparable liberator.” His proclamation also stated that the world lost “an inspiration for freedom, justice and human dignity” and that Mandela “belongs to the Ages.”
The president was also said to have called President Jacob Zuma of South Africa to express the condolences of the U.S.
Nelson Mandela leaves behind a legacy
Mandela spent nearly three decades in prison as several nations lobbied South Africa for his release, which was finally granted in 1990. He went on to become president of South Africa between 1994 and 1999, becoming the first black South African to serve in that capacity there. According to NBC News, President Obama said his first political action was an anti-apartheid protest which was inspired by Nelson Mandela.
Mandela inspired a full generation of activists, was awarded the Nobel Prize and became a philanthropist credited with raising millions for various humanitarian causes. Today South Africa remains beset by challenges of all kinds. The nation is mourning more than just a former president. It is also mourning one of the brightest beacons of optimism it has ever seen.
Mandela said even from his prison cell that he still believed in human nature. He said that no one is born with hate for others because they have a different skin color, religion or background. He also said people have to learn how to hate, and as such, they can also be taught how to love because love is more natural than hate.