Mandela’s death on Thursday has prompted an outpouring of reactions from world leaders, celebrities and other prominent figures and some of the most heartfelt tributes emerging in the wake of his passing are offering unique perspective into the former South African president’s electrifying life.
Here are some of the most intriguing insights into Mandela and they had nothing to do with him as a leader, but rather what he was like as a person.
“He had humor and humility in his bearing, and he was smarter and funnier than the parade of world leaders who flocked to see him.” – U2 Bono.
Mandela damaged his tear ducts while working in the limestone mines, which left him unable to cry. “For all this man’s farsightedness and vision, he could not produce tears in a moment of self-doubt or grief.” Mandela had surgery in 1994 to fix his eye, according to Bono.
President Barack Obama also understood the effect Mandela had on people. He said in a speech on Thursday that he drew inspiration from Mandela’s work to affect change through politics. But it was Mandela’s human side, the president said, that made him effective.
“The fact that he did it all with grace and good humor, and an ability to acknowledge his own imperfections, only makes the man that much more remarkable,” Obama said. “As he once said, ‘I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.'”
Oprah Winfrey, meanwhile, planned to re-air on OWN Sunday an interview she conducted with Mandela in 2000.
New York Times journalist Suzanne Daley, the paper’s Johannesburg bureau chief from 1995 to 1999, remembered Mandela as “quite a dandy” who fussed over his appearance and enjoyed flirting with women.
“He always managed to talk to the women wherever he went,” Daley wrote in the Times. “Young or old. He would literally get a sparkle in his eyes when there was a pretty girl around. Even when he didn’t seem to be looking, he took notice. He liked to tease.”