TRIBUTES continued to pour in today for Nelson Mandela, who died last night aged 95.
South African president, Jacob Zuma, announced the news in a televised address calling him the nation’s greatest son.
“Our people have lost a father,” he said. “What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.”
Earlier this year Sunderland AFC announced its partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation charity and in March designated a match against Manchester United Nelson Mandela Day.
Last month a delegation from the club attended the official opening of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg.
Mr Zuma opened the multi-purpose public facility which will promote the legacy of Mr Mandela and continue his ground-breaking work. SAFC commercial director Gary Hutchinson, paid respect to Mr Mandela.
He said: “This is very sad news. Mr Mandela leaves a lasting legacy which will never be forgotten and the club is particularly honoured to be associated with that legacy, an association which will continue with our present partners.
“Our thoughts go out to Mr Mandela’s family and the people of South Africa at this sad time.”
David Cameron said “a great light has gone out in the world”.
The flag at No 10 was flown at half-mast in honour of the former leader, who was a “hero of our time”, the Prime Minister said.
He added: “A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time.
“I’ve asked for the flag at No10 to be flown at half mast.”
Former prime minister Tony Blair said the political leader was a “great man” who had made racism “not just immoral but stupid”.
“He was a unique political figure at a unique moment in history,” he said.
“Through his leadership, he guided the world into a new era of politics in which black and white, developing and developed, north and south, despite all the huge differences in wealth and opportunity, stood for the first time together on equal terms.
“Through his dignity, grace and the quality of his forgiveness, he made racism everywhere not just immoral but stupid; something not only to be disagreed with, but to be despised. In its place he put the inalienable right of all humankind to be free and to be equal.
“He was a great man, a great leader and the world’s most powerful symbol of reconciliation, hope and progress.”