POLITICIANS have been paying tribute to ‘inspirational’ Nelson Mandela.
The former president of South Africa died on Thursday night, aged 95, at his house in Johannesburg, surrounded by his family.
The first black president of South Africa was described by Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage, as ‘an inspirational man, politician and leader.’
Ms Dinenage said: ‘When I was a child, I remember what apartheid was like.
‘I remember our sports teams not being able to go to South Africa because of what was happening out there.
‘It was such a big issue during my childhood and Nelson Mandela was this figure who represented hope for many, many black South Africans.
‘He was able to inspire a nation and for someone to be such a figure of peace for a country is astounding.
‘I am sure he will be greatly missed.’
Ms Dinenage has visited Polismoor Prison in Cape Town, where Mr Mandela was held.
He spent 18 years in the notorious prison on Robben Island before his transfer to a mainland facility.
She added: ‘It is amazing and a huge achievement that he kept his graciousness and kind heart through all that.
‘He was an inspirational man, politician and leader.’
For the past two years, Mr Mandela had been suffering from a series of lung infections and spent three months in hospital earlier this year.
Mark Hoban, Fareham MP, said: ‘Everyone knew Nelson Mandela had been very frail for some time.
‘But when someone who is known to the world dies, it is always a shock.
‘One of the things that sticks in my mind is how he never turned bitter after being released from prison.
‘It would have been so easy for him to be bitter and full of hate but he showed huge generosity of spirit in reaching out to people.
‘There are still economic inequalities in South Africa and I hope that, through his death, the government and businesses try to make a difference and improve the lives of the people.’