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New Yorkers hail Mandela as 'someone who made a difference'

Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 01:41

Dec. 5 - New Yorkers, tourists in Times Square reflect on Nelson Mandela's legacy, calling the former South African leader a 'strong man' and 'inspirational.' Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) As news broke that former South African President Nelson Mandela died after a prolonged lung infection at his Johannesburg home on Thursday, people in New York reflect on his legacy. Mandela, the country's first black president and anti-apartheid icon, emerged from 27 years in apartheid prisons to help guide South Africa through bloodshed and turmoil to democracy. "Are you serious? Man, that's messed up. I feel bad. God bless him, God bless his family and God bless all the people he fought for. I hope his legacy lives on because he fought hard for a lot of good people," New Yorker Kareem Holmes said. "Oh my gosh, he was such a great icon. I can not believe that," said tourist Chanel McClennahahn. "This is a shocker to the world and I know that a lot of people will be sad because he did a lot for Africa and everything," she added. Tourists and locals alike were surprised to learn the news in spite of the fact that the leader had been ill for some time. South Africa's President Jacob Zuma said Mandela would receive a full state funeral, and ordered flags to be flown at half mast. Mandela rose from rural obscurity to challenge the might of white minority apartheid government - a struggle that gave the 20th 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. New Jersey resident Jay Bittner reflected on Mandela's legacy. "It's a great loss. He was someone who made a difference and he'll be missed." Danish tourist Lene Jernob echoed those sentiments. "I think it's a big loss for all of us that he has died. I really do." Arno Kooke, a tourist from the Netherlands, reflected on Mandela's legacy and said he was inspirational. "How shall I say?...He was a strong man who took part into the struggle of the people of South Africa to get more democracy and better rights for the black people. That's what I'll remember," Kooke told Reuters. Mandela was elected president in landmark all-race elections in 1994 and retired in 1999. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, an honor he shared with F.W. de Klerk, the white Afrikaner leader who released from jail arguably the world's most famous political prisoner. In 1999, Mandela handed over power to younger leaders better equipped to manage a modern economy - a rare voluntary departure from power cited as an example to African leaders. In retirement, he shifted his energies to battling South Africa's AIDS crisis and the struggle became personal when he lost his only surviving son to the disease in 2005. Mandela was 95.

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New Yorkers hail Mandela as 'someone who made a difference'

Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 01:41