"I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela's life. My very first political action -- the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics was a protest against apartheid," Obama told White House reporters soon after he was informed about the death of the former South African President who died aged 95.
"I would study his words and his writings. The day he was released from prison it gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they're guided by their hopes and not by their fears. Like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set. And so long as I live, I will do what I can to learn from him," Obama said.
Mourning the loss of Mandela, Obama said he was one of world's most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that "any of us will share time" with on this earth. "He no longer belongs to us; he belongs to the ages. Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, Madiba (Mandela's clan name) transformed South Africa and moved all of us." "His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings and countries can change for the better."
"His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to, whether in the lives of nations or in our own personal lives," Obama said. "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. As he once said, 'I'm not a saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying,'" said the US President.
"For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived, a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice," Obama said as he led the nation in mourning the loss of Mandela.