In 2008 just before his 90th birthday, the United States gave Nelson Mandela a special present, striking him from a decades-old terror watch list and ending what US officials called "a rather embarrassing matter." By then the anti-apartheid icon had long left behind the jail cells where he was incarcerated for 27 years, and was already enjoying retirement and his status as one of the most revered statesmen of the 20th century after becoming South Africa's first black president. On Thursday, when Mandela died at age 95, President Barack Obama hailed him as belonging "to the ages" and ordered that flags on US government buildings be flown at half-mast -- a rare tribute to a foreign leader. Yet decades ago many in America did not share in the adulation of Mandela and his African National Congress (ANC), which had been billed a terrorist organization by both South Africa and the United States.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — As flags were lowered to half mast, people across South Africa commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday as the government prepared funeral ceremonies that will draw leaders and other dignitaries from around the globe.
Soweto (South Africa) (AFP) - Residents of Soweto, the bedrock of black resistance against apartheid rule, sang and danced as they paid their respects to the late peace icon Nelson Mandela outside his former home on Friday. A small crowd of admirers, some dressed in the ruling ANC party's yellow t-shirts, braved an unseasonal chilly summer morning to lay flowers outside Mandela's former residence, which is now a museum and a popular tourist attraction. Mandela, who became South Africa's first black president after battling white-minority apartheid, died late on Thursday following a protracted lung infection. He lived in the Soweto house with then-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela before he went underground in the early 1960s.