Mandela's lesson of force and finesse

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The death of Nelson Mandela, figurehead of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and who became the country's first black president, is being mourned around the world. His disappearance on Thursday, at the age of 95, amid heightened tension over next year’s parliamentary elections, now leaves the ideals of the Rainbow Nation that succeeded the apartheid regime under threat. Here, Mediapart’s Antoine Perraud pays a personal tribute to a man whose unusual combination of force, fraternity and finesse hoisted him to a political and moral highground. But he begins by underlining the role humour also played in overturning a regime of hate.

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Nelson Mandela, figurehead of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, president of post-apartheid South Africa from 1994-1999, spent almost 28 years of his life in prison, between August 1962 and February 1990.