Mandela’s Legacy: Tributes From Around the World

A roundup of quotes from political leaders, entertainers and other prominent figures reacting to the icon’s passing. 

Nelson Mandela 
Nelson Mandela  ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images

“The soul of Africa has departed, and there is nothing miraculous left in the world.” —Wole Soyinka, Nigerian writer

“All that I can do is thank God that I had a grandfather who loved and guided all of us in the family. The best lesson that he taught all of us was the need for us to be prepared to be of service to our people … We are now preparing to celebrate his contribution to this country, to the world and to our family. Celebrating his long life is the best accolade we can give him.” —Mandla Mandela, grandson 

“Our thoughts are with the South African people, who today mourn the loss of the one person who, more than any other, came to embody their sense of a common nation. Our thoughts are with the millions of people across the world who embraced Madiba as their own, and who saw his cause as their cause. This is the moment of our deepest sorrow. Our nation has lost its greatest son.” —South African President Jacob Zuma

“My very first political action, the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or policy or politics, was a protest against apartheid. I would study his words and his writings, the day he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not by their fears. And like so many around the globe, I cannot imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set. And so, as long as I live, I will do my best to do what I can to learn from him.” —President Barack Obama

“We will forever draw strength and inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary example of moral courage, kindness and humility.” —First lady Michelle Obama

“President Nelson Mandela will forever be remembered as someone who gave up so much of his life in the struggle for freedom so that millions could have a brighter future.” —United Nations Security Council

“One of the great honors of my life was to be invited to Nelson Mandela’s home, spend private time and get to know him. He was everything you’ve ever heard and more — humble and unscathed by bitterness. And he always loved to tell a good joke. Being in his presence was like sitting with grace and majesty at the same time. He will always be my hero. His life was a gift to us all.” —Oprah Winfrey

“Paying tribute to the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation’s citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of nonviolence, reconciliation and truth, I pray that the late president’s example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations.” —Pope Francis

“He was a man of courage, principle and unquestionable integrity, a great human being, someone of whom we can truly say, ‘He lived a meaningful life.’ I pray for him and offer my heartfelt condolences to you, the members of your family and the entire people of South Africa.” —The Dalai Lama