Virginia Officials React to Nelson Mandela Passing

Civil rights activist dies at age 95.

First lady Michelle Obama talks with Nelson Mandela; White House photo
First lady Michelle Obama talks with Nelson Mandela; White House photo
Northern Virginia and other officials were quick to react Thursday upon hearing of the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela.

"World lost a great man today in Nelson Mandela," Congressman Jim Moran (D-8th) said on his Twitter account. "What an incredible life filled with courage and hope."

"The world has lost a great leader & advocate for equality w/loss of Pres. Mandela & I join millions across the globe in mourning his passing," U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine said, also on Twitter.

Kaine also released this statement:

"The world has lost a great leader and advocate for equality with the loss of President Mandela but his legacy lives on in a democratic and free South Africa. I join millions across the globe in mourning his passing and hope his life will continue to inspire new generations of leaders to fight for more inclusive and just societies."

Gov. Bob McDonnell issued the following statement Thursday evening following the news of the passing of Mandela.

"It is with great sadness that we have all learned of the passing of Nelson Mandela, one of the true giants of history. Affectionately known by his Xhosa clan name of 'Madiba,' Nelson Mandela lived a life that broke down barriers, tore down walls, and lifted up a nation, a people, and a world. All Virginians can learn from his example, and I encourage the citizens of this state, especially our young people, to take this moment to study the life of Nelson Mandela. He has shown us the incredible good one person can do; he has demonstrated the unique, positive power each life contains. I wish his family, and all the people of South Africa, the very best in these trying times. This is a better world for the long and uplifting life of Nelson Mandela."

Gov.-Elect Terry McAuliffe also issued a statement:

“I was deeply saddened to learn that the world has lost a giant in the enduring fight for justice and human rights with the passing of President Nelson Mandela.  His service and sacrifice to the cause of equality in South Africa helped end the institution of apartheid in that nation and showed the world what we can achieve if we work for progress together. 

“Dorothy and I are praying for the Mandela family, the people of South Africa and all of those who are mourning his passing. There will never be another Nelson Mandela, but his spirit and his cause will live on in the men and women whom he inspired to fight for a more equal, just, and prosperous world for us all.”

From the Nelson Mandela Bay Web site, on the southeastern coast of Africa in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa:

"I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the idea of a democratic and free society. If need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die".(Nelson Mandela)

Nelson Mandela was born in Qunu, a small village near Mthata (Umtata) in the former Transkei, (Eastern Cape) on 18 July 1918. As member of the Madiba clan, he was raised amongst Xhosa royalty. He helped to found the ANC Youth League and, in 1991, was elected as President of the African National Congress. Upon returning from Algiers for military training, he was arrested and charged with attempting to overthrow the Apartheid Government. Convicted of sabotage and treason, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island – South Africa’s ‘Alcatraz’.

The SA Government responded to international pressure by releasing him on 11 February 1990 after 27 years’ imprisonment. He and South African President F W de Klerk jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize 1993 in recognition for their combined efforts towards reconciliation and peace in this country. On 10 May 1994, he became the first black President of South Africa after a landslide victory in the April 1994 elections; it was the country’s first ever election where black people were allowed to vote. As an act of reconciliation, he appointed F W de Klerk, his former rival, as one of two vice-presidents.

He retired from public life in June 1999, currently residing in Sandton, Johannesburg with his wife, Graca Machel. They exchanged vows on his 80th birthday in 1998. He regularly visits his birthplace, annually hosting local children to a Christmas Party. This great man, whose second name ‘Rholihlahla’ means "shaker of trees" or "troublemaker", united his country by urging citizens to reconciliation, not revenge. Nelson Mandela remains South Africa’s best-known and best-loved hero. He is the world’s icon of peace and reconciliation, personifying a "spirit of freedom" internationally.


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