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Nation 'loses its greatest son'

The people of South Africa have reacted with deep sadness at the loss of the father of the nation

As news of Nelson Mandela's death spread across South Africa, residents of the black township of Soweto gathered in the streets near his old house, singing and dancing to mourn his death and celebrate his colossal life.

The people of South Africa have reacted with deep sadness at the loss of the father of the nation, but mourners said it was also time to celebrate the achievements of the anti-apartheid leader who emerged from prison to become South Africa's first black president.

President Jacob Zuma, dressed in black, announced the news of Mr Mandela's death on Thursday night, saying the 95-year-old Madiba had died "peacefully" at around 8.50pm in the company of his family.

"He is now resting. He is now at peace," Mr Zuma said. "Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father."

Soweto residents gathered in front of Nelson Mandela's old home in the early hours of the morning to mark his death.

About 40 people formed a circle in the middle of Vilakazi Street and sang songs that had emerged from the long and bitter anti-apartheid struggle.

Some were draped in South African flags and the green, yellow and black colours of the African National Congress.

"We have not seen Mandela in the place where he is, in the place where he is kept," they sang, a song that anti-apartheid protesters sang during Mr Mandela's 27-year incarceration.

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