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December 10th, 2013
05:44 AM ET

World Leaders Gather to Remember Mandela

Tens of thousands of people, nearly 100 heads of state, celebrities and street sweepers are all honoring Nelson Mandela.

In what has been billed as one of the largest gatherings of global leaders in recent history, world leaders from President Barack Obama to France's Francois Hollande gathered alongside street sweepers, actors and religious figures to pay tribute to the revered statesman who died last Thursday.

See former South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar talk about his history and relationship with Nelson Mandela above.

Despite the rain, the atmosphere inside Johannesburg 's FNB stadium was celebratory, with people dancing, blowing "vuvuzela" plastic horns and singing songs from the anti-apartheid struggle.

Many carried banners honoring "Madiba," Mandela's traditional clan name, or his picture.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told CNN's Christiane Amanpour at the Memorial for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg that the leader had a 'great relationship with the Queen. He was the only person who could call her Elizabeth.'

Some had skipped work and queued for hours to secure a seat so that they could pay their respects.

The four-hour service started an hour late as guests continued to stream into the stadium, where Mandela delivered his first major speech after his release from prison. It began with the national anthem.

Watch the Nelson Mandela memorial from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. ET Tuesday on CNN.

December 9th, 2013
06:47 AM ET

Nelson Mandela Death: 91 World Leaders Head to South Africa

More than 90 heads of state are on their way to South Africa for what is expected to be the largest gathering of world leaders in Africa's history.

It's a clear sign of what kind of impact Nelson Mandela left on the world.

Mandela, the activist who spent 27 years in prison before becoming his country's first black president, died Thursday at the age of 95.

U.S. President Barack Obama heads to Johannesburg on Monday for Mandela's official memorial service, which will take place Tuesday in the city's soccer stadium. But the 90,000 seats probably won't be enough to house the many mourners wanting to pay thanks to the great anti-apartheid leader.

A state funeral will be held Sunday in Mandela's ancestral hometown of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province.

At least 91 heads of state and 10 former heads of state have said they're coming to South Africa this week, government international relations spokesman Clayson Monyela said.

In addition to Obama, former presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton will attend. More than two dozen U.S. lawmakers are also scheduled to attend.

Other guests include the Prince of Wales, British Prime Minister David Cameron and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as celebrities such as Bono, Oprah Winfrey and Naomi Campbell.

Out of the public eye, friends who had not seen each other in years have been coming together with Mandela's family in his home, said Zelda la Grange, Mandela's longtime personal assistant.

Mandela called La Grange his "rock" even though she seemed an unlikely confidante. She was a white Afrikaner and an employee of the former apartheid government.

In her first interview since Mandela's death, she described the mood in his home to CNN's Robyn Curnow on Monday.

"Obviously there's sadness in the house," she said, but also, "People are celebrating Madiba's life. They are grateful."

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December 6th, 2013
04:29 AM ET

Nelson Mandela Dies at 95

Nelson Mandela, the revered statesman who emerged from prison after 27 years to lead South Africa out of decades of apartheid, has died, South African President Jacob Zuma announced late Thursday. CNN's Robyn Curnow reports.

Mandela was 95.

"He is now resting. He is now at peace," Zuma said. "Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father."

"What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human," the president said in his late-night address.

"We saw in him what we seek in ourselves."

Mandela will have a state funeral. Zuma ordered all flags in the nation to be flown at half-staff from Friday through that funeral.

Mandela, a former president, battled health issues in recent months, including a recurring lung infection that led to numerous hospitalizations.

With advancing age and bouts of illness, Mandela retreated to a quiet life at his boyhood home in the nation's Eastern Cape Province, where he said he was most at peace.

He was later moved to his home in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, where he died.

Despite rare public appearances, he held a special place in the consciousness of the nation and the world.

See reactions from the international community below:

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July 1st, 2013
05:48 AM ET

President Obama visits Tanzania – Nima Elbaghir reports

President Obama spent an emotional weekend in South Africa, where former South African President Nelson Mandela is still in critical but stable condition at a hospital in Pretoria.

Mandela is said to be still on life support, with his family by his bedside.

While he did not see Mandela himself, the president did meet with Mandela's family. He also visited Robben island where the anti-apartheid icon was held prisoner for many years.

The president is now on his way to Africa's east coast, to visit Tanzania.

Nima Elbaghir has the latest.

June 28th, 2013
06:22 AM ET
June 28th, 2013
06:09 AM ET

Nelson Mandela's health critical but stable – Robyn Curnow reports

Ailing former South African President Nelson Mandela remains in a South African hospital today. Outside, well-wishers sang and prayed, as word emerged that the 94-year-old's condition had stabilized.

CNN’s Robyn Curnow reports that the anti-apartheid leader’s condition does however remain critical but stable this morning. She is live in Pretoria with the latest.

“It's important to note Nelson Mandela is still on life support,” Curnow reports. “He needs help breathing.”

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June 26th, 2013
06:28 AM ET

Mandela's health; the latest on the former South African leader

Nelson Mandela remains in critical condition in a Pretoria hospital this morning.

The archbishop of Cape Town prayed with 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader’s family on Tuesday, calling for a "peaceful, perfect end." The family is said to be meeting to discuss the situation.

CNN's Robyn Curnow is live over the phone in Pretoria following his condition and the state of the nation.

The front page of a leading newspaper there reads “The Final Struggle” in the headline, Curnow reports.

“There really does seem to be quite a somber atmosphere here, as people try to come to grips with the fact that he might not be here for very much longer.”

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June 24th, 2013
06:01 AM ET

Mandela’s condition downgraded to critical

CNN is following the latest in South Africa now, where Nelson Mandela's condition appears to be deteriorating.

Officials there announced that the 94-year-old former president and anti-apartheid leader has been downgraded from serious to critical condition as he battles a lung infection.

Robyn Curnow is reporting live this morning in Pretoria.

Mandela’s family is taking every day one at a time as he gets treated in the intensive care unit of a South African hospital, Curnow reports. His daughter Maki says she just wants him to be comfortable, and believes her father “is at peace with himself” for all he's given to the world.

But the media attention is disturbing them. “While he is at peace, they say they are angry, uncomfortable with the intense media interest.”

Maki asks for space for the family whether it's her father's last moments with them or not.

“For them Mandela is not the global icon," Curnow says. "He's a father, a grandfather, who they don't want to share with the world at this critical time…So they wait and hope.”

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March 28th, 2013
06:13 AM ET

Nelson Mandela hospitalized with a lung infection at midnight on Thursday – Errol Barnett reports


Former South African President Nelson Mandela was admitted to hospital after a recurrence of a lung infection, the South African president's office said Thursday.

The Nobel laureate was admitted to hospital on Wednesday night.

"Doctors are attending to him, ensuring that he has the best possible expert medical treatment and comfort," President Jacob Zuma's office said in a statement.

"We appeal to the people of South Africa and the world to pray for our beloved Madiba and his family, and to keep them in their thoughts," the statement said.

Madiba refers to his affectionate clan name, which is widely used in the nation.

READ MORE: Nelson Mandela back in hospital with lung infection

Filed under: Nelson Mandela • World