The death has been announced of the world’s most revered statesman and anti-apartheid icon, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, by the current South African President, Jacob Zuma.
“Our nation has lost its greatest son,” Mr Zuma said.
“Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss.”
According to President Zuma, Mandela died shortly after 1900hrs local time.
Mandela, fondly referred to as “Madiba” was born in 1918 in the Eastern Cape in South Africa and joined the African National Congress in 1943.
Nelson Mandela adopted India’s Mahatma Ghandi’s style of non-violent protest against the South African white minority rule in South Africa.
His troubles with the white minority government in South Africa reached a fevered pitch when he was charged with high treason in 1956 but charges were dropped after a four-year trial.
In 1962, he was arrested again and convicted of incitement and leaving the country without a passport. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
In 1964, he was charged with sabotage and got a life sentence.
Before his freedom in 1990, Mandela was the “face” of the fight against apartheid in South Africa.
He was reportedly offered to be freed under the conditions that he would quit politics forever while he was in prison but he declined, insisting on an unconditional release.
He was freed from prison in 1990 at the age of 71 and no sooner had he been free than he embarked upon a worldwide crusade to put an end to white minority rule in South Africa.
What has endeared Mandela to the whole world is his message of forgiveness and reconciliation after spending 27-years in jail.
Mandela was elected first indigenous African president of South Africa in 1994 and he stepped down in 1995.
Since stepping down from office in 1995 Mandela had gradually withdrawn into private and made fewer public appearances as the effect of old age took its toil on him.
His last high profile public appearance was at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Jacob Zuma also announced that Mandela would receive a full state funeral, and flags would be flown at half-mast.
His fellow campaigner against apartheid and Nobel Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said he was “not only an amazing gift to humankind, he made South Africans and Africans feel good about being who we are. He made us walk tall. God be praised.”
BBC correspondents say Mr Mandela’s body will be moved to a mortuary in the capital, Pretoria, and the funeral is likely to take place next Saturday.