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      Nelson Mandela dead at 95

      JOHANNESBURG (AP/WACH) -- Nelson Mandela, the 95-year-old former South African president who closed the final chapter in South Africa's struggle to cast off white racist rule, has died.

      Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa says "we've lost our greatest son."

      Speaking from the White House, President Barack Obama said he was one of the countless millions around the world who was influenced by Mandela.

      President Barack Obama says the world has lost an influential, courageous and `profoundly good' man with the death of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

      Obama says Mandela "no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages." Mandela died Thursday at the age of 95.

      Obama met with Mandela's family earlier this year when he visited South Africa. But he did not meet with the ailing leader, who was hospitalized throughout the U.S. president's visit.

      Leaders across the Palmetto State also shared their thoughts on the passing of the former South African leader.

      Governonr Nikki Haley says: â??There are no words to describe the impact Nelson Mandela had not just on his country but on the world. May we all continue to learn from his courage, his grace, and his incomparable strength.â??

      Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin called Mandela one of his personal heroes in a release:

      â??I was a junior at the University of South Carolina campaigning for student body president when we learned that Nelson Mandela had finally been released and I remember how the gravity and pure joy of that moment washed over all of us. Years later I had the rare opportunity to visit his home in Soweto and the 8â?? x 7â?? concrete cell on Robbin Island where he was imprisoned for decades to try and gain a greater understanding of the magnitude of his personal sacrifice and struggle.

      â??Yet while we mourn this loss with the people of South Africa and freedom loving peoples all across the world, 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.â??

      â??Nelson Mandela was a transformational figure, a man who truly changed the world," Senator Tim Scott said in a release. "He walked a long road to freedom and embraced the fundamental human belief in equality. After his release from prison, his tireless work to reconcile a nation torn apart by centuries of tension and hostility made him one of historyâ??s greatest statesmen. All freedom-loving people mourn his passing.â??

      As South Africa's first black president, the ex-boxer, lawyer and prisoner No. 46664 paved the way to racial reconciliation with well-chosen gestures of forgiveness. South Africans celebrate his legacy and mourn their loss.

      South Africa's president says Nelson Mandela will be buried on Sunday, Dec. 15.

      President Zuma also said Friday that a memorial service in a Johannesburg stadium will be held for the anti-apartheid leader on Tuesday, Dec. 10. Zuma said that Mandela's body will lie in state at government buildings in Pretoria from Wednesday, Dec. 11, until the burial.

      He said this coming Sunday, Dec. 8, will be a national day of prayer and reflection.

      Zuma thanked people from around the world who are sending condolences to Mandela's family. Mandela died Thursday night at the age of 95.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)