Madiba’s Famous Friends

We take a look at Nelson Mandela’s best-known friends.

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    Win McNamee/Getty Images for the Clinton Foundation

    Bill Clinton

    Former U.S. President Clinton leans down to whisper to former South African President Nelson Mandela during a visit to the Nelson Mandela Foundation July 19, 2007, in Johannesburg.

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    Media24/Gallo Images/Getty Images

    Whitney Houston

    Mandela wipes the tears of a very emotional Houston when she meets him on the steps of the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

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    Naashon Zalk/Getty Images

    Charlize Theron

    Oscar-winning actress Theron brushes tears away as she meets former Mandela at Mandela House, on March 11, 2004, in Johannesburg.

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    Adil Bradlow/AFP/Getty Images

    Michael Jackson

    Mandela stands with Jackson, who was given a lifetime achievement award during the Kora All Africa Music Awards in Sun City on Sept. 4, 1999.

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    AFP/Getty Images

    Another One With M.J.

    Jackson poses with Mandela in Kwazulu-Natal on July 20, 1996.

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    Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

    Morgan Freeman

    Actor Freeman and Mandela attend the Unite for a Better World Gala Dinner Sept. 2, 2007, at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, Monaco. 

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    Tom Stoddart/Getty Images

    Queen Elizabeth

    He should be dubbed the People’s King as Mandela rides in high-royalty fashion in a horse-and-carriage buggy with Queen Elizabeth at his side in 1996. 

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    Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

    Jimmy Cliff, Bono and Wyclef Jean

    Cliff, Bono, Jean and Mandela attend the Unite for a Better World Gala Dinner Sept. 2, 2007, at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

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    Dave Benett/Getty Images


    U2 Lead Singer Bono and Mandela wave to the audience at the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s ‘46664 Give One minute to Aids’ concert at the Greenpoint Stadium on November 29, 2003 in Cape Town. 

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    Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images

    Oprah Winfrey

    Winfrey and Mandela take part in a ceremony Dec. 6, 2002, marking the start of construction of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg.

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    Rajesh Jantilal/AFP/Getty Images

    More Oprah

    Winfrey smiles at Mandela as he performs the Madiba jive dance at a ceremony where she handed out Christmas gifts to underprivileged school children in December 2011.

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    David Thomson/AFP/Getty Images

    Prince Charles

    Mandela talks with Prince Charles on the last day of Mandela’s four-day state visit to the United Kingdom. Media reports in Britain said Prince Charles’ wife, Princess Diana, had accepted divorce terms the previous week, but that Buckingham Palace wanted to wait until Mandela finished his visit before making an announcement.

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    Odd Anderson/AFP/Getty Images

    Prince Charles and the Spice Girls

    Mandela shares a joke with Prince Charles, his grandchildren and the Spice Girls at his residence in Pretoria, Nov. 1, 1997.

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    Media24/Gallo Images/Getty Images

    Prince Andrew

    Prince Charles’ younger brother Prince Andrew also got a chance to meet Mandela when the anti-apartheid icon welcomed the prince to his office in Houghton, South Africa in 2007.


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    Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

    Will Smith

    Mandela appears onstage with Smith during the 46664 concert in celebration of Mandela’s life at Hyde Park on June 27, 2008, in London.

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    Touchline/Getty Images

    David Beckham

    Football superstar David Beckham gave his jersey to Mandela during an event hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation on May 21, 2003 in Johannesburg.  

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    Dirck Halstead/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

    President George H. W. Bush

    President George H. W. Bush and Mandela shake hands in front of the White House in 1990 — the same year he was released from prison. 

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    STR/AFP/Getty Images

    President Jimmy Carter and Bill Gates Sr.

    President Jimmy Carter and Bill Gates Sr. — the father of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates — cradled babies alongside Mandela during a visit to the Zola clinic on March 7, 2002 in Soweto.

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    Oryx Media Archive/Gallo Images/Getty Images

    Princess Diana

    Princess Diana gazes admiringly at Mandela while on a trip to Cape Town in 1997, five months before her death. 

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    Walter Dhladhla/AFP/GettyImages

    Stevie Wonder

    Mandela congratulates Wonder at the Gift to the Nation concert in honor of Mandela’s 80th birthday, July 25, 1998.

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    Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images

    Queen Noor

    Queen Noor of Jordan and Nelson Mandela smile at one another at the opening of the fifth World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa on September 8, 2003. 

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    Media24/Gallo Images/Getty Images

    Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands

    Mandela shakes hands with Queen Beatrix at a Netherlands banquet in her honour.

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    Alexander Joe /AFP/Getty Images

    Black Eyed Peas

    Mandela poses for a picture with members of the Black Eyed Peas band in Johannesburg May 29, 2006.

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    Chris Jackson/Getty Images

    Gordon Ramsay

    Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay shakes hands with Nelson Mandela during a lunch to benefit the Mandela Children’s Foundation on April 3, 2009 in Cape Town.

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    Anna Zieminski/AFP/Getty Images

    Naomi Campbell

    Mandela hugs the British supermodel at Genadendal, his Cape Town home.

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    Denis Farrell/AFP/Getty Images

    Hillary Rodham Clinton

    Mandela sits with Hillary Rodham Clinton during a meeting in Johannesburg on August 7, 2009 to discuss Zimbabwe’s efforts to democratize. 

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    Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

    Chelsea Clinton

    Chelsea Clinton kneels to speak to Mandela during a dinner to raise money for Mandela’s global charity projects on June 25, 2008 in London.


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    Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images

    Bill and Melinda Gates

    Mandela and philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates address a youth forum on HIV/AIDS at the University of Witwatersrand on September 22, 2003 in Johannesburg

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    Getty Images


    Mandela with Beyoncé at a press conference for the 46664 concert Nov. 28, 2003, on Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town.

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    Dave Benett/Getty Images

    Roger Taylor, Annie Lennox, Sir Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel

    Musician Roger Taylor, singer Annie Lennox, Mandela, Sir Richard Branson and musician Peter Gabriel attend a book-launching event for ‘46664 The Concert’ at The Dorchester Hotel on November 25, 2004 in London.


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    Anna Zieminski /AFP/Getty Images

    Samuel L. Jackson

    Mandela and Jackson are pictured during the prize-giving ceremony at the end of the Nelson Mandela Invitational Golf Tournament at the Arabella Country Estate outside of Cape Town in November 2003.

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    Mannie Garcia/Getty Images

    President George W. Bush

    Mandela and President George W. Bush sit in the Oval Office on May 17, 2005 to bring awareness and raise money for the Nelson Mandela Legacy Trust which supports African-based charities. 

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    Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

    Elton John and Lily Safra

    Sir Elton John and Brazilian philanthropist Lily Safra hover over Mandela during a dinner to celebrate his 90th birthday on June 25, 2008 in London.