Nelson Mandela

Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi / The Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG -- The man accused of faking sign interpretation while standing alongside world leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela's memorial service said Thursday he hallucinated that angels were entering the stadium, suffers from schizophrenia and has been violent in the past.

South Africa The Good News / Wikimedia Commons

  It was the summer of 1990. I was home, living with my parents, working part-time at a Miami television station as a production assistant. I made an aspiring journalist’s wage, $6 an hour.

A multiracial group of students back at my Washington, D.C., college had staged sit-ins calling for the school to divest from South Africa. I remember campus-wide "reverse apartheid" protest days. We were learning about modern-day, systemic racial segregation.

But in 1990, Nelson Mandela, who'd spent 27 years as a political prisoner, was released.

During Tuesday's memorial service at South Africa's largest soccer stadium, President Obama delivered a 20-minute eulogy that compared Mandela to Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln and America's founding fathers.

Mandela, Obama said in Johannesburg, was the "last great liberator of the 20th century." He was not only a man of politics, but a pragmatist and flawed human being who managed to discipline his anger to turn centuries of oppression into what Mandela liked to call a "Rainbow Nation."

(This post was last updated at 9:27 a.m. ET.)

The skies were gray over Johannesburg this morning. And the rain was relentless.

South Africa The Good News / Wikimedia Commons

In the summer of 1993 Nelson Mandela was touring the United States raising money for his African National Congress political party. He visited one of the most racially separate cities in the U.S. but had a much different experience compared to his visit three years earlier in Miami.

Mandela came to visit in early July. That summer I was working as an intern for a CBS News radio station in Chicago. I was assigned to help the reporter who was on scene at host Rev. Jesse Jackson's headquarters in Chicago's South Side, where the population is largely African-American.

If you live on the Caribbean street – and Florida is part of that street – here are three ways of looking at Nelson Mandela’s death yesterday.

Each, not surprisingly, involves Cuba and Fidel Castro. But in a larger sense they involve how immaturely we practice politics on this street – and how immaturely the world beyond this street views our politics.

Nelson Mandela, who became an icon of the struggle for racial equality during a decades-long struggle against South Africa's apartheid system, is being remembered across the globe on Thursday following his death at age 95.

Mandela died after a prolonged lung infection, which had been a recurring problem for him since his days as a prisoner of conscience on South Africa's Robben Island. He served 27 years at the notorious jail.

"He is now resting. He is now at peace," South African President Jacob Zuma said in an address to the nation.

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States / Wikimedia Commons

Twenty-three years ago, Nelson Mandela came to Miami, stumbled  into a quagmire of Cuban exile politics, got exploited by racial equality organizers and left South Florida a little better than it was before.

Former South African president Nelson Mandela has died. Click here to read this story as updates become available.

For further coverage of Mandela's death, read NPR's Mandela series.