South Carolina politicians reacted Dec. 5 to the death of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, who led a nonviolent campaign against that country’s apartheid system, was imprisoned by its government for 27 years and eventually became its president from 1994 to 1999. Mandela was 95.
“May we all continue to learn from his courage, his grace, and his incomparable strength,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement.
“His contributions to mankind will be talked about for the ages,” U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham posted on Twitter.
Mayor Steve Benjamin recalled that he was a student at the University of South Carolina the year Mandela was released from prison, 1990, and that he’d also had the opportunity to visit Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island, Cape Town.
“[W]hile we mourn this loss with the people of South Africa and freedom-loving peoples all across the world,” Benjamin said in a statement, “his example of unflinching courage and determination lives on and will continue to inspire us all to stand tall in the face of adversity and to be bigger and better than we ever dreamed possible.”
South Carolina politicians have not always been so effusive about Mandela or his mission; U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond — along with President Ronald Reagan and then-U.S. House Rep. Dick Cheney — opposed the 1986 Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act.