In Western New York, people are also reacting to the news of Nelson Mandela's death. They told YNN's Katie Cummings that Mandela's legacy will live on.
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- For South Africans like UB student Asanda Feza, it’s still shocking to hear of Nelson Mandela’s passing, a man she calls the father of the nation and her hero. She remembers the day he was released from prison in 1990.
"Every black South African was celebrating, was on the street. It was a huge day for us, too," said Feza.
Feza says without Mandela's work in civil rights, she would not have the opportunity to get her MBA or even go to college. She says his work was an inspiration to many.
"He’s been a very huge impact in our life when it comes to peace, when it comes to non violence. We learned to forgive," said Feza.
A UB professor who has researched Africa extensively remembers a trip to the continent in 1994 when he saw on TV the lines of people voting for Mandela.
“Seemed like miles long of men and women, some with babies on their back, others just leaning over their canes, ready to vote for the first time in their lives. That was extraordinary and one of the most emotional experiences that I’ve had in my life," said UB Political Science Professor Claude Welch.
Welch says Mandela has an icon status similar to Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. However, he lived to see the transformation of South Africa, specifically in the urban area of Soweto.
"Houses are well equipped with electricity, all of them, lots of improvement, automobiles or at least motor scooters and bicycles. The trains are running, the South African economy is doing very well," said Welch.
Feza says she expects her mother, who’s still in South Africa, to pay her respects at the funeral. She says for the nation, it will be a time not only and grieve his death, but to celebrate his life and work.