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Remembering Nelson Mandela: From inspiring dissident to global icon

South African National Congress President Nelson Mandela addresses in 1990.
South African National Congress President Nelson Mandela addresses in 1990.
Trevor Samson /AFP/Getty Images

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After a lifetime of activism, Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black, democratically elected president, will be laid to rest on December 15 in his native home of Qunu. As the once divided Rainbow Nation mourns the loss of the man known affectionately by his clan name, Madiba, the impact of Mandela's life is being felt worldwide.

In a tribute to the 95 year old statesman, President Obama described him as "one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth."

From the world of entertainment, actor Idris Elba, who plays Nelson Mandela in a new biopic just released said "What an honor it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."

Just months after his release from a 27 year prison sentence in February 1990, Nelson Mandela came to Los Angeles as part of countrywide goodwill tour. On June 29, Mandela addressed a crowd of thousands at the Coliseum, where Los Angeles County Supervisor,  Zev Yaroslavsky met him. "He was a larger than life figure, a beacon of strength, principle and character. I still remember the day I met him and how moved I was when I had the opportunity to shake his hand. All of us who value freedom and human dignity have lost a giant of the human race."  

A book of condolence will open at the South African Consulate in Los Angeles from Monday December 9 to Friday December 13 from 10am to 2pm.


Steven Van Zandt, musician, songwriter, producer who co-produced and wrote the 1985 anti-apartheid song and album, “Sun City”.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, (D-CA) U.S. Congresswoman serving California’s 43rd District - comprised of South Los Angeles; Before her election to Congress, she was a leader in the movement to end Apartheid and establish democracy in South Africa.

Reverend Kelvin Sauls,  South African minister based in L.A; Sauls was raised in Johannesburg

Pedro Noguera, an early organizer of campus anti-apartheid demonstrators at UC Berkeley. He is now a Professor of Education at NYU and the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education