Official TTI Chef
Former South African President Nelson Mandela died peacefully at his Johannesburg home on Thursday after a prolonged lung infection. He was 95.
Mandela, the country's first black president and anti-apartheid icon, emerged from 27 years in apartheid prisons to help guide South Africa out of bloodshed and turmoil to democracy.
"Our people have lost a father. Although we knew this day was going to come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss. His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world. His humility, passion and humanity, earned him their love," he added.
"Fellow South Africans, our beloved Nelson Rohlihlahla Mandela, the founding president of our democratic nation, has departed," President Jacob Zuma said in a nationally televised address.
Mandela would receive a full state funeral, Zuma said, ordering flags to be flown at half mast.
Al Jazeera's Tania Page, reporting from outside Mandela's home in Johannesburg, said that there was a real sense of celebration in tribute to Mandela's life there, while world leaders were also delivering their tributes .
Speaking to Al Jazeera from outside the former leader's Mandela's house, where people of various races were singing songs dedicated to the former leader, local journalist Kenichi Serino said that there were around a thousand people gathered there.
"There is a total mix of people. There are Indian people, black people, guys with dreadlocks... anyone with a car is here. It's a cross-section of groups. There are lots of South African flags."
He said that the atmosphere was a mixture of a sombre and festive mood.
"People are also taking pictures of themselves here, so as to capture the moment of them being here as well."
Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa, reporting from Soweto, where Mandela once lived, said radio stations were telling people that "once you wake up go to Vilakazi street", famous for its place in the struggle against apartheid.
"The mood is basically one of celebrations ... I think people know that he achieved a lot for his country. Yes, he was not perfect. He was, afterall, human but he was the man of the people," she said.
Speaking to Al Jazeera on Thursday night, local resident Mbuso Mwandla, said that about a hundred leading African National Congress party comrades in Vilakazi street were chanting and marching in the streets. He said that the rest of Soweto remained quiet with people still waking up to the news.
Mandela rose from rural obscurity to challenge the might of white minority apartheid government - a struggle that gave the twentieth century one of its most respected and loved figures.
He was among the first to advocate armed resistance to apartheid in 1960, but was quick to preach reconciliation and forgiveness when the country's white minority began easing its grip on power 30 years later.