President Jacob Zuma said that Mandela would be buried on December 15 at his ancestral home in the Eastern Cape.

South Africans heard from Zuma late on Thursday that their first black president, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, had died peacefully at his Johannesburg home in the company of his family after a long illness.

On Friday, the country's 52 million people absorbed the news that the statesman, a global symbol of reconciliation and peaceful co-existence, had departed forever.

Zuma also announced Mandela would be honoured at a December 10 memorial service at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium, the site of the 2010 World Cup final.

"We will spend the week mourning his passing. We will also spend it celebrating a life well lived," Zuma said.

Mandela would be laid to rest at his ancestral village of Qunu, 700 km (450 miles) south of Johannesburg, in a plot where three of his children and other close family members are buried.

Despite reassurances from public figures that Mandela's death at 95, while sorrowful, would not halt South Africa's advance from its apartheid past, there were those who expressed unease about the absence of a man famed as a peacemaker.

"It's not going to be good. I think it's going to become a more racist country. People will turn on each other and chase foreigners away. Mandela was the only one who kept things together," said Sharon Qubeka, 28, a secretary from Tembisa township.

Flags flew at half mast across the country, and trade was halted for five minutes on the Johannesburg stock exchange.

But the mood was not all somber. Hundreds filled the streets around Mandela's home in the upmarket Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, many singing songs of tribute and dancing.

The crowd included toddlers carrying flowers, domestic workers still in uniform and businessmen in suits.

Another veteran anti-apartheid campaigner, former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu, said that like all South Africans he was "devastated" by Mandela's death.

"Let us give him the gift of a South Africa united, one," Tutu said, holding a mass in Cape Town's St George's Cathedral.

Tributes continued to pour in for Mandela, who had been suffering for nearly a year from a recurring lung illness dating back to the 27 years he spent in apartheid jails, including the Robben Island penal colony.

US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron were among those who praised him. The White House said that Obama would travel to South Africa next week to participate in memorial events.

The flags of the 193 United Nations member states along First Avenue in Manhattan, New York were lowered at 10 am EST (1500 GMT) in honour of Mandela. The UN General Assembly observed a minute of silence.

The loss was also keenly felt across the African continent. "We are in trouble now, Africa. No one will fit Mandela's shoes," said Kenyan teacher Catherine Ochieng, 32.

Former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, an old ally of Mandela's in the struggle against apartheid, hailed him as "a great freedom fighter".

Members paying tributes to former South African President Nelson Mandela in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi

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"Mandela was the only one who kept things together," he said.
               
Flags flew at half mast across the country, and trade was halted for five minutes on the Johannesburg stock exchange.
               
But the mood was not all sombre. Hundreds filled the streets around Mandela's home in the upmarket Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, many singing songs of tribute and dancing.
               
The crowd included toddlers carrying flowers, domestic workers still in uniform and businessmen in suits.
               
Many attended church services, including another veteran anti-apartheid campaigner, former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu. He said that like all South Africans he was "devastated" by Mandela's death.
               
"Let us give him the gift of a South Africa united, one," Tutu said, holding a mass in Cape Town's St George's Cathedral.
               
An avalanche of tributes continued to pour in for Mandela, who had been ailing for nearly a year with a recurring lung illness dating back to the 27 years he spent in apartheid jails, including the notorious Robben Island penal colony.
               
U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron were among world leaders who paid tributes to him as a moral giant and exemplary beacon.
               
The loss was also keenly felt across the African continent. "We are in trouble now, Africa. No one will fit Mandela's shoes," said Kenyan teacher Catherine Ochieng, 32.
               
POLITICIANS NOW "NOTHING LIKE MANDELA"
               
For South Africa, the death of its most loved leader comes at a time when the nation, which basked in global goodwill after apartheid ended, has been experiencing labour unrest, growing protests against poor services, poverty, crime and unemployment and corruption scandals tainting Zuma's rule.
               
Many saw today's South Africa - the African continent's biggest economy but also one of the world's most unequal - still distant from being the "Rainbow Nation" ideal of social peace and shared prosperity that Mandela had proclaimed on his triumphant release from prison in 1990.
               
"I feel like I lost my father, someone who would look out for me," said Joseph Nkosi, 36, a security guard from Alexandra township in Johannesburg.
               
Referring to Mandela by his clan name, he added: "Now without Madiba I feel like I don't have a chance. The rich will get richer and simply forget about us. The poor don't matter to them. Look at our politicians, they are nothing like Madiba."
               
The crowd around Mandela's home in Houghton preferred to celebrate his achievement in bringing South Africans together.
               
For 16-year-old Michael Lowry, who has no memory of the apartheid system that ended in 1994, Mandela's legacy means he can have non-white friends. He attended two schools where Mandela's great grandchildren were also students.
               
"I hear stories that my parents tell me and I'm just shocked that such a country could exist. I couldn't imagine just going to school with just white friends," Lowry said.
               
Shortly after the news of Mandela's death, Tutu had tried to calm fears that the absence of the man who steered South Africa to democracy might revive some of the ghosts of apartheid.
               
"To suggest that South Africa might go up in flames - as some have predicted - is to discredit South Africans and Madiba's legacy," Tutu said in a statement on Thursday.
               
Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, an honour he shared with F.W. de Klerk, the white Afrikaner president who released him in 1990. Reacting to his death, the Nobel Committee said Mandela would remain one of the greatest ever prizewinners.
               
In 1999, Mandela handed over power to younger leaders better equipped to manage a modern economy - a rare voluntary departure from power cited as an example to African leaders.
               
This made him an exception on a continent with a bloody history of long-serving autocrats and violent coups.

National flags fly half-mast in honour of the global icon

May hurt Anc In long term

Zuma and his ruling African National Congress face presidential and legislative elections next year which are expected to reveal discontent among voters about poverty and unemployment 20 years after the end of apartheid.

But the former liberation movement is expected to maintain its dominance in South African politics.

Mark Rosenberg, Senior Africa Analyst at the Eurasia Group, said that while Mandela's death might give the ANC a sympathy-driven boost for the next elections, it would hurt the party in the long term.

He saw Mandela's absence "sapping the party's historical legitimacy and encouraging rejection by voters who believe the ANC has failed to deliver on its economic promises and become mired in corruption".

Mandela rose from rural obscurity to challenge white minority rule - a struggle that gave the 20th century one of its most respected and loved figures. He was among the first to advocate armed resistance to apartheid in 1960, but was quick to preach reconciliation and forgiveness when the white minority began easing its grip on power 30 years later.

He was elected president in all-race elections in 1994 after helping to steer the divided country towards reconciliation and away from civil war.

Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, an honour he shared with F.W. de Klerk, the white Afrikaner president who released him in 1990.
In 1999, Mandela handed over power to younger leaders better equipped to manage a modern economy, a rare voluntary departure from power cited as an example to African leaders.

This made him an exception on a continent with a bloody history of long-serving autocrats and violent coups.

FACTBOX - Nelson Mandela in his own words

"For my own part I have made my choice. I will not leave South Africa, nor will I surrender. Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won. The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days." - ANC press statement, June 26, 1961

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"During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.

"I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.

"It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to see realised. But, my lord, if needs be it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die." - speech at treason trial, April 20, 1964
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"I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands." - on release from prison, February 11, 1990

Madiba in pics
Nelson Mandela: A Peace Icon
Memories of Nelson Mandela

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"It will forever remain an indelible blight on human history that the apartheid crime ever occurred. Future generations will surely ask: What error was made that this system established itself in the wake of the adoption of a universal declaration of human rights?

"It will forever remain an accusation and a challenge to all men and women of conscience that it took as long as it has before all of us stood up to say 'enough is enough'." - to UN Special Committee against Apartheid, June 22, 1990

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"The time for the healing of the wounds has come ... the moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is upon us." - on inauguration as President of South Africa, May 10, 1994
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"No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion. People must 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." - from his 1994 autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom"

"It would be a cruel irony of history if Africa's actions to regenerate the continent were to unleash a new scramble for Africa which, like that of the nineteenth century, plundered the continent's wealth and left it once more the poorer." - to the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, July 11, 1997
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"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that determines the significance of the life we lead." - on the 90th birthday of Walter Sisulu, May 18, 2002
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"I think the United States has become drunk with power" - from documentary "Mandela: The Living Legend", 2003
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"We live in a world where knowledge and information have made enormous strides, yet millions of children are not in school. We live in a world where the AIDS pandemic threatens the very fabric of our lives.

"Yet we spend more money on weapons than on ensuring treatment and support for the millions infected by HIV. It is a world of great promise and hope. It is also a world of despair, disease and hunger." - at Live 8 concert in Johannesburg, July 2, 2005
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"Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is people who have made poverty and tolerated poverty, and it is people who will overcome it." - on being named Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience, 2006
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"On my last day I want to know that those who remain behind will say: 'The man who lies here has done his duty for his country and his people'." - 1999

JPN/Agencies

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