JOHANNESBURG- Nelson Mandela, the revered icon of South Africa's anti-apartheid struggle and a towering figure of 20th century politics, died Thursday aged 95.
The Nobel Peace laureate, who was elected South Africa's first black president after spending nearly three decades as a political prisoner, died at his Johannesburg home surrounded by his family, after a long battle against lung infection.
The news was announced to the nation and the world by a clearly emotional South African President Jacob Zuma in a live broadcast to the nation.
"Our beloved Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding president of our democratic nation has departed," said Zuma, who was also imprisoned on Robben Island.
"Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father."
Mandela was discharged from hospital in September, but continued to receive intensive care at home. He had a long history of lung problems after contracting tuberculosis while in jail.
After huddling around radios and televisions to hear the news, South Africans poured onto the streets near his home, walking arm-in-arm to join a crowd of hundreds singing songs celebrating his struggle against apartheid.
"My heart is full of joy and sadness at the same time," said Ashleigh Williams, one of those outside the house.
"He left a great legacy. I don't think anyone will ever be able to fill his shoes."