London

Nelson Mandela death: London pays tribute

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Media captionIn 1962 Mandela toured the capital to drum up support for his cause

Flowers and candles have been laid in London's Parliament Square in tribute to Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday at the age of 95.

Crowds have gathered at a statue of the former South African president, which has become a focal point for those wanting to celebrate his life.

"I remember very fond memories of him and what he did for us in South Africa," said Valerie Ponnusamy, who worked with Mr Mandela when she was an activist at the African National Congress.

"He took us out of the evil and brought us into the light, he was a man of men."

Despite the sombre atmosphere, many people wanted to reflect on the changes Mr Mandela made across the world.

Image caption The statue of Nelson Mandela was unveiled in 2007

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone recalled meeting Mr Mandela and his wife Graca Machel at the statue's unveiling in 2007.

He said: "He really enjoyed London.

"He was saying when he came to London for the first time in 1962, he was wandering around Parliament Square thinking to himself, 'Will there ever be a statue of a black person here?'"

Cries of "Long live the spirit of Nelson Mandela" and "Viva Mandela" have also echoed outside South Africa House, where the national flag is flying at half mast.

Joan Foster was one of those who left a bunch of flowers.

"It's amazing how one person made so much change," said the 51-year-old.

"How many people could say they made a nation change the way they think?"

Her thoughts were echoed by the mayor of London Boris Johnson.

"There's no-one really to touch Mandela because plenty of people can claim that they have in some way united their country and brought people together but Mandela's the only one I can think of that basically united the whole world," Mr Johnson said.

Books of condolence have been opened at Westminster Abbey and South Africa House.

One woman stood by Mr Mandela's statue said she wanted to show her gratitude.

"I'm here to show respect, he always stood up for things he believed in even at great sacrifice," she said.

"I just feel sad, but I am happy that he fulfilled his dream and his purpose."

Image caption Crowds have been gathering outside the South African High Commission

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