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World honors Mandela as champion of freedom and reconciliation

Nelson Mandela was hailed on Thursday as a champion of reconciliation who "achieved more than could be expected of any man," as people the world over mourned his death and celebrated his triumphant fight against apartheid in South Africa.

"Today he's gone home, and we've lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth," U.S. President Barack Obama said of Mandela, who became South Africa's first black president.

Nelson Mandela

Obama, who himself made history when he was elected in 2008 as America's first black president, noted his first involvement in anything political was a protest against apartheid, the system of white rule in South Africa.

"He achieved more than could be expected of any man," said Obama, who is expected to go to South Africa for Mandela's state funeral. The flag over the White House was lowered to half-staff after Mandela's death.

"Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time," British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote on Twitter. "A great light has gone out in the world.

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