"The large baobab tree has fallen, but its roots will nourish the soil forever," the ANC said on Friday.
The ANC said the nation lost a “colossus, an epitome of humility, equality, justice, peace and the hope of millions; here and abroad”.
In a statement released by the office of ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, the party said it was with a sense of “profound loss” that it had learned of the passing of its former president Nelson Mandela.
"In the life of every nation, there arise men who leave an indelible and eternal stamp on the history of their peoples; men who are both products and makers of history. And when they pass they leave a vision of a new and better life and the tools with which to win and build it."
"Madiba loved South Africa. We recall the strength of his fist punching the air as he stepped out of prison after 27 years; and his sternness during the negotiations for the freedom of our beloved country. We celebrate his ever-present smile, the cheerful Madiba jive, his love for children and great respect for the women of this country.
'Nourish the earth'
“The large African Baobab, who loved Africa as much as he loved South Africa, has fallen. Its trunk and seeds will nourish the earth for decades to come.”
"Born in Qunu, Mandela recognised the burden of colonial and racial oppression and exploitation," the party said.
Mandela joined the ANC in 1942.
"He was convinced by the belief his wise tutor, Walter Sisulu, had in the ANC as the means to effect change in South Africa.
"He loved the ANC. Hence his frequent words that upon his death he would join ‘the nearest branch of the ANC in heaven’."
The ANC said Mandela served the party “with distinction throughout his life”.
"He was part of the ANC leadership collective and did not make decisions without first reflecting with his comrades. Yet he would fight for the principle of what was the right thing to do.
"His was a choice to not only be a product but the maker of his and his people’s history.
"As he said while in prison: ‘Ours is not to ask for equality on a lower scale; ours is to fight to win on an equal but higher level’."
'Passed the baton'
The ANC said Mandela had “passed the baton” of the movement to the younger generation.
"The ANC continues in this task as set forth by him and those of his generation, living and deceased.
"To the entire family of Mandela, we extend our heartfelt condolences. He was as much yours as he was ours, probably his dedication to the ANC family robbed you of a father. We will, from this minute on, as always, walk this journey with you to the end."
The ANC called on South Africans to honour Mandela’s memory in a dignified way.
"Indeed, men and women such as Nelson Mandela, when they pass they leave a vision of a new and better life and the tools with which to win and build it.
"His life gives us the courage to push forward for development and progress towards ending hunger and poverty.
"As we said of him while still alive, and we say so now, ‘We have you, Madiba, as our nearest and brightest star to guide us on our way. We will not get lost’."