South Africans hold a candlelight vigil outside the house of former South African president Nelson Mandela following his death in Johannesburg on December 5, 2013.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — On Nelson Mandela’s street, there is singing.

Songs from the liberation struggle, songs in Mandela’s praise. Choruses of “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika,” this country’s gorgeous national anthem, sung by the crowds that have gathered here since news came that Mandela had died.

Around the country, as South Africans young and old pay tribute to their beloved former president and national hero, the sadness is tempered with a celebration of his life rather than a tearful mourning of his death.

President Jacob Zuma announced the news about Mandela late Thursday, and much of South Africa learned only at first light of Mandela’s passing.

“Hamba Kahle, Madiba,” the front pages read Friday morning. “Go well.”

Outside Mandela’s house in the upscale Houghton area of Johannesburg, a late-night contingent gathered after Zuma broke the news on national television, causing a jam of cars on normally quiet streets.

Parents brought their children, still in pajamas, to lay flowers at a makeshift memorial. Neighbors and their domestic workers walked to the cordoned-off area, some holding candles. Young members of Mandela’s African National Congress party danced and waved flags.

Kuki Bundwini, 56, said she came to show her love and respect for “Tata,” or “father,” as Mandela is known.

“So may things have happened since Tata has been out of jail,” she said. “We have been so blessed.”

“There is absolutely no one like him,” said Zukie Kepe, 41, an information technology worker.  “He must just rest in peace. We release him in peace."

Dali Tambo, son of anti-apartheid struggle stalwart Oliver Tambo, left Mandela’s house in the early hours of the morning after paying his respects along with his wife and children.

"I suppose even though it was expected, there's a degree of shock,” he said. "We're all very sad. It's the passing of an era."

“I feel like a rare species has disappeared from this Earth and we'll never get it again."

Tambo said that in contrast to the celebrations on the street, inside the house the atmosphere was “quiet and sober,” with family members and ANC leaders joining together in a prayer.

The mood was also somber in Qunu, the rural Eastern Cape village where Mandela spent his boyhood years, and where he lived after retirement until ill health forced him back to Johannesburg.

The local Daily Dispatch newspaper reported that a Xhosa praise singer shouted outside the gates of Mandela’s home in Qunu, calling on the villagers to wake up as “a great tree has fallen.”

On Friday, in a second address to the nation, Zuma announced that Mandela will be buried at his family graveyard in Qunu on Dec. 15.

A national day of prayer and reflection will be held December 8, and a main memorial service on Dec. 10 at the enormous stadium in Soweto that was the main venue during the 2010 soccer World Cup.

Mandela’s body will lie in state at Union Buildings in Pretoria from Dec. 11 to 13.

Eldest grandson Mandla Mandela said the family was grateful for messages of condolences received from around the world.

"All that I can do is thank God that I had a grandfather who loved and guided all of us in the family,” he said in a statement. "The best lesson that he taught all of us was the need for us to be prepared to be of service to our people."

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu paid tribute to his great friend and fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate in an emotional service at St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town.

Tutu said that Mandela would have wanted "South Africans to be his memorial.”

South Africans pay tribute to Mandela:

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