South Africa has lost a colossus who epitomised humility, equality, justice peace and hope for millions of South Africans, the ANC has said, eulogising the late former president Nelson Mandela who passed away just before 9pm yesterday. “The large African Boabab, who loved Africa as much as he loved South Africa, has fallen. Its trunk and seeds will nourish the earth for decades to come,” said the ANC, the party which Mandela served as president from 1991 to 1997. “Our nation has lost a colossus, an epitome of humility, equality, justice, peace and the hope of millions, here and abroad.” South Africa will wake up this morning to official flags flying at half-mast, temporarily halted government programmes as the country tries to come to terms with Mandela’s passing. In a statement released by party spokesperson Keith Khoza, the ANC called on South Africans to celebrate Mandela’s life and “honour his memory in a dignified way as his leadership and stature deserves”. The party has also urged the country to take part in all the activities organised in Mandela’s honour “in a disciplined and respectful manner, until he is laid to rest”. “To the people of South Africa, may your hearts be not in distress. He lives in each and every one of you and in your homes, because he gave of himself to all of us,” said the party. The ANC said Mandela has left South Africa with a vision to build a better life for its people. “In the life of every nation, there arise men who leave an indelible and eternal stamp on the history of their peoples; men who are both products and makers of history. “And when they pass, they leave a vision of a new and better life and the tools with which to win and build it,” said the ruling party. The party also believed that Madiba – the clan name by which he was affectionately known – will join “the nearest branch of the ANC in heaven” as he often joked on the subject of his death. “Sometimes one can judge an organisation by the people who belong to it, and I knew that I would be proud to belong to any organisation of which Walter (Sisulu) was a member,” Mandela once said. The ANC reminded South Africans of how Mandela hated “racism and bigotry” and espoused a country free of hunger and poverty. The ANC said it would ensure that Mandela’s vision lived on after his death and sent condolences to his family and friends. “To the entire family of Mandela, we extend our heartfelt condolences. He was as much yours as he was ours, probably his dedication to the ANC family robbed you of a father. We will, from this minute on, as always, walk this journey with you to the end,” said the ANC. South Africans, the ANC said, should remember the “strength of his fist punching the air as he stepped out of prison after 27 years and his sternness during the negotiations for the freedom of our beloved country.” “We celebrate his ever-present smile, the cheerful Madiba jive, his love for children and great respect for the women of this country,” said Khoza.