Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
STARTING TODAY, Jamaicans from all walks of life will be engaged in a period of mourning to mark the passing of the late great South African leader Nelson Mandela.
The Government has given instructions that the Jamaican flag is to be flown at half mast at state offices and public buildings.
For five days, ending next Wednesday, a mixture of sombre and celebratory focus will be on Mandela, who was 95 at the time of his death.
In life, Mandela commanded monumental attention, and in death, he elicited superlative acknowledgements of his greatness.
Richly worded tributes continued to flow in countries around the world yesterday, with Jamaica being no exception. Influential personalities in and out of the political domain eulogised the man lauded as "the icon of icons".
Jamaica House signalled that the nation's legislative body, comprising the Senate and the House of Representatives, will devote a special session next Friday to formally pay their respects.
The South African High Commission yesterday opened a condolence book, which will be available for signing until Friday, December 13, between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.
In her customary outgoing fashion, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller led her team from the two-day Cabinet retreat to sign the condolence book.
Declaring that Mandela was no ordinary friend of Jamaica, Simpson Miller said: "He valued the solidarity of the Jamaican people in the struggle for freedom and justice, and the dignity of the human person, to which Mr Mandela devoted his life."
So extensive was he revered that the vast majority of nations, notwithstanding political beliefs and religious persuasions, have named a street, building, park or other significant objects in his honour.
Even Jamaica has the more-known Nelson Mandela Park in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew, the Mandela Highway that links St Andrew and St Catherine, and the Mandela community in the Waltham Park area.
His name continues to flourish all over the globe, especially in the land in which he fought for freedom but was imprisoned; where he was unceremoniously grounded but soared gloriously and graciously to the sociopolitical pinnacle.
Locally, the tributes from the political arms were not confined to the leaders.
"Team PNP joins the nation and indeed the globe in mourning the passing of the great Nelson Mandela," revealed the People's National Party (PNP).
"This iconic leader is unmatched in his selflessness and in his advocacy for human rights and the freedom of all peoples, especially in his native South Africa," Team PNP added.
Chairman of Jampro, Milton Samuda, described Mandela as an exceptional human being who led an extraordinary life of example.
"With Jamaica and the rest of the world, we at Jampro celebrate that life, lived for 95 years by one of humanity's most outstanding sons," said Samuda.
Newspapers around the world dedicated their front pages to the news of the passing of the iconic former South African President Nelson Mandela yesterday. Among them were newspapers from the United Kingdom (above), Germany (below), and The Gleaner (left) in Jamaica.