WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Hundreds came to honor former South African President Nelson Mandela at an unveiling of a statue of the anti-apartheid leader.

The statue is at the South African Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue in Northwest D.C.

There was song, celebration and speeches for the man affectionately referred to as Madiba, the Father of South Africa.

"Dignity, humility, respect, courage truly the spirit of Mandela."

Zindzi Mandela came for the unveiling of the 9-foot statue of her father.

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"Let us not forget to celebrate in his sunset years that we are bringing those values alive as we strive to become better people," saidZindzi Mandela.

Mandela's Grandson, "We appreciate what's been done and we just want to continue celebrating my grandfather's legacy."

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison during apartheid and would later become president of the nation that imprisoned him.

Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, "Mahtma Ghandhi Statue is further down the road, Martin Luther King Memorial on the Mall and today we add Nelson Mandela outside the embassy on Massachusetts."

The statue stands at the spot where people protested against apartheid and were arrested. It's the spot where the 'Free South Africa Movement' was born.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Randall Robinson walked out of DC Superior Court after being arrested nearly 30 years ago. That began the daily protests at the South African embassy.

"Ambassador Fourie answered our appeal that day by having us arrested and removed from the embassy in shackles," Robinson said.

Joining the movement, the band 'Kool and the Gang' who refused to perform in South Africa's Apartheid era.

George Bell, Kool and the Gang, "We are totally honored to honor Nelson Mandela for not only what he's done to South Africa but for all people in the world. There were sanctions in South Africa that the world stood up to move forward, it's a great step for all of humanity for what Nelson Mandela accomplished for all of us."

Mandela is a global figure for peace but he is also a family man, a father who was in prison for half of his daughter, Zindzi Mandela's life.

"I feel a deep sense of pride. I think it's very important in this stage of my father's history that his values are documented for future generations. How is your father? He is fine. Typical of a 95-year-old who's health is frail but he's with us and we appreciate every moment with him,"Zindzi Mandela said.

Here's a look at some of the important dates in Nelson Mandela's life:

  • In June 1961 - Mandela begins organizing the armed struggle against apartheid.

  • In June 1964 - he's sentenced to life in prison for four counts of sabotage.

  • In July 1989 - Meets with South African President Botha.

  • February 1990 - Mandela is released from prison after more than 27 years.

  • April 29, 1994 -he's elected the first black president of the Republic of South Africa in the first open election in the country's history.

  • He leaves office in June 1999.

There is much speculation of Mandela's frail health but his daughter says "this man is a fighter, he's not going anywhere anytime soon. He's determined to be with us."

She says only his maker knows how long he will be with us.

Robinson, "In important ways he will never die. That is what he has given to humanity. He will last in the hearts in the lives he touched and there are millions of those."

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