During a televised address this evening South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, announced that the country’s first black president and racial oppression hero, Nelson Mandela, has died at the age of 95. During his address. Zuma reflected on Mandela’s life saying: He is now resting. He is now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. His humility, his compassion and his humanity earned him our love. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves. Nelson Mandela was an icon of freedom in his home country where he fought against the white minority government and the apartheid system. After years of non violent protests and strikes Mandela was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of treason, sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the white government. After serving 27 years in jail, he was released in 1990 and negotiated with his captors to end the white rule.

Here's the icon on the cover of Time magazine at the age of 90.

Mandela was battling a variety of health issues for the past several months including gall stones and a major lung infection. He recently transitioned from a hospital to his childhood home in in the Eastern Cape and later to his home in Johannesburg where he died. He will forever be remembered as a symbol of the struggle for human rights and as a leader who dedicated his life to bringing a divided nation together. He died at 8:50pm at his home. Instead of mourning his death people have called to celebrate his life. Here are some celebrity reactions.

President Obama said in a statement, “I cannot imagine my own life without Mandela’s example. May Nelson Mandela’s life of service to others and his unwavering commitment to equality, reconciliation, and human dignity continue to be a beacon for each future generation seeking a more just and prosperous world.”

Oprah released a statement, saying, "One of the great honors of my life was to be invited to Nelson Mandela's home, spend private time and get to know him. He was everything you've ever heard and more – humble and unscathed by bitterness. And he always loved to tell a good joke. Being in his presence was like sitting with grace and majesty at the same time. He will always be my hero. His life was a gift to us all."

Morgan Freeman: “Today the world lost one of the true giants of the past century. Nelson Mandela was a man of incomparable honor, unconquerable strength, and unyielding resolve—a saint to many, a hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind. As we remember his triumphs, let us, in his memory, not just reflect on how far we’ve come, but on how far we have to go. Madiba may no longer be with us, but his journey continues on with me and with all of us.”

Idris Elba: "What an honor it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family." 

Beyonce: "Thank you for all you have sacrificed to improve the lives of other human beings. Rest in peace."

Muhammad Ali: "I am deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Mandela. His was a life filled with purpose and hope; hope for himself, his country and the world. He inspired others to reach for what appeared to be impossible and moved them to break through the barriers that held them hostage mentally, physically, socially and economically. His was a spirit born free, destined to soar above the rainbows. Today his spirit is soaring through the heavens. He is now forever free."

Rihanna: "One of the greatest men who's ever lived!!! #Legend We will never forget the things this man has taught us, and we will never truly comprehend the level of strength that it took for him to endure many of his years!! Thank you #Mandela."

Khloe Kardashian: "An amazing man with great wisdom. Rest in peace Nelson Mandela."

Mike Tyson: "I'm hearing about Nelson Mandela's death while on African soil in Oran, Algeria. Sending prayers to Mandela's family."

Samuel L. Jackson: "Never met a better person in my life than Nelson Mandela. My sympathy to his family & his country."

Gabrielle Union: "Rest in eternal peace, love and light #NelsonMandela."

Tyra Banks: "95 powerful years on this earth yet freedom for INFINITY because of you. You are an angel that will live forever."

The funeral and burial arrangements for Nelson Mandela will take place in the village where he grew up as a child alongside his other deceased relatives.

photo credit - Time magazine