Former South African President NELSON MANDELA passed away yesterday. He was 95.
Current President Jacob Zuma announced his death in a statement . . . adding, quote, "He passed on peacefully in the company of his family . . . He's now resting. He's now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son.
"Our people have lost a father. Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss."
Mandela had been in bad health over the past several months. In June, he was hospitalized for a recurring lung infection and pneumonia. His lungs had been weak ever since he got tuberculosis during the 27 years he spent behind bars.
He had been released from the hospital in September . . . and continued his treatment at home . . . even though he was still in pretty rough shape.
Mandela was a political prisoner from 1962 to 1990. He fought to abolish apartheid and worked to end poverty. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 . . . and became the first black president of South Africa in 1994. He held the position until 1999.
Nelson Mandela (1918-2013): The Tributes
As you'd expect, a lot of people have commented on NELSON MANDELA'S death. Here are some highlights:
President Obama: "[Mandela] achieved more than could be expected of any man. Today, he's gone home, and we've lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth."
Idris Elba, who plays Nelson in the new movie, "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom": "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."
By the way, Nelson DID see that movie . . . one of the producers says, quote, "He saw Idris Elba as the old Mandela in the Mandela prosthetics and he [said], 'Is that me?' And it was very cute and he smiled and laughed, so it was very good."
Morgan Freeman, who portrayed Nelson in the 2009 movie "Invictus", wrote a long piece on Mandela for "Time" magazine. Among other things, he said, quote, "[Nelson] and I became friends back in the 1990s . . .
"When, during a press conference, he was asked whom he would want to portray him in a film. To my everlasting honor, he mentioned ME, and thus began our 20-year relationship . . . His legacy lives on in all of us."
Prince William: "We were just reminded of what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was . . . and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family." (Here's video.)
Samuel L. Jackson: "Never met a better person in my life than Nelson Mandela. My sympathy to his family and his country."
Anderson Cooper: "Mandela is gone. There is no one else like him. I remember [his] Election Day in 1994. Standing in line with elderly South Africans voting for the first time in their lives."
John Legend: "What a heroic, beautiful life Mandela lived. Rest in peace."
Rihanna: "One of the greatest men who's ever lived!!! We will never forget the things this man has taught us, and we will never truly comprehend the level of strength that it took for him to endure many of his years!! Thank you #Mandela. You made your people proud! We'll always love you for it!"
Kendrick Lamar: "Advising all my young ones that follow me to research a small piece of Nelson Mandela Life. That's how you pay your respect . . . GO!"
Lindsay Lohan: "'A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.' - Nelson Mandela."
Queen Latifah: "God Bless You Mr. Nelson Mandela! Your Strength, Humanity, Intelligence, Honesty and True Grit are unmatched in my lifetime!"
Ryan Seacrest: "'We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.' - the great Nelson Mandela."
Gwen Stefani: "R.I.P. Nelson Mandela." (And she linked to the SPECIALS' song, "(Free) Nelson Mandela". Here it is.)
Busta Rhymes: "RIP 2 ONE OF OUR LAST TRULY GREAT KINGS AND GOD OF OUR UNIVERSE, THE LATE GREAT NELSON MANDELA!!! I WILL 4EVER LOVE U GREAT MAN & GREAT MIND."
Larry King: "Sad to hear about the passing of Nelson Mandela . . . he was the greatest figure of the 20th century . . . a fascinating man."
LL Cool J: "Nelson Mandela. What a difference one person can make. #RestEternally."
And of course, Bono wrote an entire essay.
Paris Hilton: "Just landed and heard the sad new about Nelson Mandela. He was a true hero and the world is a better place because of him. May he rest in peace . . .
"[And] whoever made that stupid fake tweet lacks respect to the loss the world is mourning right now. Same goes for all the blogs who ran with it."
She's talking about a FAKE Tweet that was photoshopped to make it LOOK LIKE she confused Nelson with MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., but it didn't actually come from her account.
It said, quote, "RIP Nelson Mandela. Your 'I Have a Dream' speech was so inspiring. An amazing man."
("The Onion" also came out with an amusing story titled: Quote, "Nelson Mandela Becomes First Politician To Be Missed." Here's the link