Nelson Mandela Dies; South African Leader, Global Icon Was 95

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Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95, according to reports.

Increased activity was noted around the Johannesburg home of South Africa's first black president, who has been very ill, in the past 24 hours.

Mandela's death was confirmed just minutes ago.

Nelson Mandela Picture

South African President Jacob Zuma announced Mandel's passing, which marks the final chapter in a revolutionary life that changed South Africa forever.

Zuma spoke about his predecessor on national TV.

"Our nation has lost its greatest son, yet what made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human," Zuma said. "We saw in him what we seek in ourselves."

"In him, we saw so much of ourselves."

Family members had gathered after Mandela's eldest daughter said the ailing icon was putting up a fight from what she nonetheless called his "deathbed."

Nelson Mandela spent nearly three months in the hospital with a lung infection earlier this year, but kept pressing on, as has always been his way.

He had been receiving intensive home-based care since he was released in September, but his health slowly declined and he passed away today.

Mandela's journey and struggle remain one of the defining stories of the 20th Century. Trained as a lawyer, he became involved in politics after 1948.

As South Africa moved into a system of racial apartheid, he initially spoke out and espousing non-violent protests with the African National Congress (ANC).

However, he eventually founded a militant organization and was behind a bombing campaign in the early '60s. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1962.

Mandela's imprisonment soon became an international cause, and was eventually released in 1990 after intervention by President F. W. de Klerk.

A free man at last, he spearheaded South Africa's transition from white-minority rule after that, marking the end of apartheid with the aid of de Klerk.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was elected South Africa's first black president in 1994. He stepped down after five years in office.

Mandela is survived by his wife, Graca Machel, six children, and 17 grandchildren.

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