NORMAN — In nearly seven decades spent fighting for freedom and equality, Nelson Mandela inspired and challenged the world to stand up for others. As word of Mandela’s death spread Thursday, people around the world spoke out about the life and legacy of the former South African leader.
Some like former U.S. President Jimmy Carter had personal connections with Mandela. The two worked closely through a group of global leaders that Mandela formed in 2007 to promote human rights. Others only knew Mandela from afar but shared how they drew strength from his strength.
Carter said the people of South Africa and human rights advocates around the world had lost a great leader.
“His passion for freedom and justice created new hope for generations of oppressed people worldwide, and because of him, South Africa is today one of the world’s leading democracies,” Carter said.
Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said the world had lost “a visionary leader, a courageous voice for justice and a clear moral compass.”
“God was so good to us in South Africa by giving us Nelson Mandela to be our president at a crucial moment in our history,” Tutu said. “He inspired us to walk the path of forgiveness and reconciliation and so South Africa did not go up in flames.”
“As we remember his triumphs, let us, in his memory, not just reflect on how far we’ve come, but on how far we have to go,” said the U.S. actor Morgan Freeman, who portrayed Mandela in the 2009 film “Invictus.”
In Haiti, Mandela symbolized the struggle for black equality.
“Mandela is not only the father of democracy in South Africa, but is also a symbol of democracy,” Haitian President Michel Martelly said. “And like any symbol, he is not dead. He is present in all of us and guides us by his lifestyle, his courage and faith in the true struggle for equality.”