NEW YORK (AP) — Maya Angelou, who first met Nelson Mandela in the early 1960s, praised him as a great man worthy of comparison to another icon she knew, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Our planet has lost a friend,” the author and poet said Friday during a telephone interview.
Angelou was a journalist in Egypt, living with South African activist Vusumzi Make, when Mandela visited them. She remembered him as handsome and funny and unusually generous with compliments, able to get along with the varying groups of political opponents to South Africa’s apartheid regime.
Mandela was imprisoned in 1964, but their friendship resumed in the 1990s after his release, she said.
“He was kind to everybody,” she said.
The U.S. Department of State later Friday released a video of Angelou reciting a new poem, “His Day is Done,” in which she mourned Mandela’s death, praised him as a modern Gideon and, in one passage, marveled at his endurance of racism and imprisonment:
Would the man survive?
Could the man survive?
His answer strengthened men and women around the world.
Angelou learned of Mandela’s death Thursday just hours after she heard of another friend’s passing.
“This is a very heavy time,” she said sadly during her phone interview. “A giant has fallen.”
30 Best Nelson Mandela Quotes
30 photos Launch gallery
1. "It always seems impossible until it is done. "-Nelson Mandela
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2. "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination." -Nelson Mandela
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3. "Any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose." -Nelson Mandela
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4. "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." -Nelson Mandela
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5. "After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb." -Nelson Mandela
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6. "Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mind cannot be separated." -Nelson Mandela
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7. "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children." -Nelson Mandela
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8. "In my country we go to prison first and then become President." -Nelson Mandela
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9. "Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement." -Nelson Mandela
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10. "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." -Nelson Mandela
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11. "I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances."-Nelson Mandela
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12. "If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness & Forgiveness."-Nelson Mandela
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13. "Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all."- Nelson Mandela
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14. "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."-Nelson Mandela
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15. "I have retired, but if there's anything that would kill me is to wake up in the morning not knowing what to do. "-Nelson Mandela
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16. "I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people."-Nelson Mandela
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17. "Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another."-Nelson Mandela
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18. "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."-Nelson Mandela
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19. "Give a child love, laughter and peace, not AIDS."-Nelson Mandela
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20. "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner."-Nelson Mandela
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21. "I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities."-Nelson Mandela
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22. "I dream of the realization of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses."-Nelson Mandela
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23. "I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself."-Nelson Mandela
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24. "We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right."-Nelson Mandela
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25. "I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man."-Nelson Mandela
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26. "There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."-Nelson Mandela
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27. "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."- Nelson Mandela
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28. "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered. "-Nelson Mandela
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29. "Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future."-Nelson Mandela
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30. "Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace. "-Nelson Mandela
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