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Family 'overwhelmed' by global support

JOHANNESBURG--Nelson Mandela's grandson expressed gratitude Friday for the global outpouring of support since the death of the 95-year-old peace icon, saying his family had been “overwhelmed” by the heartfelt tributes.

“The messages we have received since last night have heartened and overwhelmed us,” said Mandla Mandela in a statement, the first public comment from the former president's family since his death.

“I am sincerely grateful for the national and international support that our family received during Madiba's long health challenges.”

“All that I can do is thank God that I had a grandfather who loved and guided all of us in the family,” said Mandla, who is chief of the remote village of Mvezo where Mandela, South Africa's first black president, was born in 1918.

Mandela's death late on Thursday unleashed a flood of emotional tributes across the world, with US President Barack Obama ordering flags to fly at half-mast for the “profoundly good” man and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hailing the anti-apartheid hero as a “true Gandhian.”

Mandla added: “He is an embodiment of strength, struggle and survival, principles that are cherished by humanity.

“As a grandfather, we have all known him as a kind-hearted, generous and wise person who was always prepared to offer us advice on how to be good members of our communities.”

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