A Kenyan reads morning newspaper with the headlines of Nelson Mandela in Nairobi, Kenya, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. Former South African President Nelson Mandela died Friday Morning at the age of 95. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)

 

East African leaders mourned the loss of South African liberation leader Nelson Mandela on Friday, with Tanzania declaring three days of mourning.

“The world has lost one of its greatest citizens,” Tanzanian President Kikwete said, calling Mandela “a voice of courage, a source of inspiration and a beloved leader to us all.”

In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Mandela “embodied the power of hope and believed in the power of forgiveness.”

The 95-year-old died late Thursday.

“He bequeathed us the understanding that we can and should unconditionally forgive those who wrong us,” Kenyatta added.

Kenyan deputy president William Ruto said that with the death of Nelson Mandela, “the world has lost a moral example of selfless leadership”.

“The African continent is poorer without Madiba,” Ruto was quoted as saying by local newspaper The Standard.

“We are mourning a father to multiple generations of Africans. Madiba was a shining example that we should all emulate,” he added.

Former Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga said: “Nelson Mandela was one of those rare human beings that we are persistently looking up to and we only come across once in a century or a generation, and only if we are lucky.”

“We are lucky to have lived in his time and to have witnessed him rise to become a legend while he still lived. In Mandela's death, the world has lost a great symbol for what humanity can achieve with good intentions and persistence,” Odinga added.

In Rwanda, President Paul Kagame said that “he will continue to live in the hearts of many of us”.

In west Africa, Ghana's president, John Dramani Mahama, and former president Jerry Rawlings paid tributes to former president Nelson Mandela as “a man of peace and tolerance” and “the man who sowed unifying peace in South Africa.”

Mandela was an icon, not only of hope, but also of the possibility for healing, Mahama said in a statement.

“His utilisation of peace as a vehicle of liberation showed Africa that if we were to move beyond the divisiveness caused by colonisation, and the pain of our self-inflicted wounds, compassion and forgiveness must play a role in governance,” he added.

Former president Rawlings described Mandela as an enigma, yet an icon of true reconciliation.

“Mandela exhibited exceptional leadership qualities, which will shape and inspire generations to come,” Rawlings said.

Sapa-AFP-dpa