The outpouring of condolences from across the world for Nelson Mandela shows that the anti-apartheid revolutionary and former South African president was a "global citizen," and he now "is at home with great friends," a spokesman for the family said in the first statement from the human rights leader's immediate kin since his death.
"[The family] is humbled by the messages of condolences and support we continue to receive from governments and people of the world," Mandela family spokesman Lt. Gen Themba Matanzima said today.
Matanzima, who is a member of the Thembu clan to which the Mandelas belong, spoke in South Africa this afternoon on national television.
Mandela died Thursday at 95 at his home in Johannesburg, surrounded by his family, after fighting a long battle against a lung infection.
"Clearly this once more underlines the simple truth that Madiba was not just a citizen of South Africa and the broader African continent, but a global citizen," Matanzima said.
"We are, however, comforted by the knowledge that our pain and sorrow is shared by millions around the world," he said. "Madiba is at home with great friends such as OR Tambo, Walter Sisulu and indeed many other great African patriots and leaders.
"As to how the family is coping with this situation -- yes, it has not been easy for the last two days and it won't be pleasant for the days to come, but with the support we are receiving from here and beyond in due time all will be well for the family," he said.
"The pillar of the royal Mandela household is no more with us physically, but his spirit is still with us. We have lost a great man – a son of the soil whose greatness in our family was in simplicity of his nature," he said.
"In our midst was a caring family leader who made time for all and on that score we will dearly miss him."
A flood of world leaders will be heading to South Africa in the coming days to pay respects to Mandela. South African President Jacob Zuma announced a national mourning period of 10 days. The main event will be an official memorial service to be held Dec. 10.
The South African government announced today that heads of state and other VIPs will attend a memorial eventTuesday at Soccer City -- technically the FNB Stadium -- which was the venue for the 2010 World Cup final.
The stadium, on the edge of Soweto, holds 94,000 people and was the site of Mandela's first speech in Johannesburg after his release from prison.