12/06/2013 05:36 pm ET

Bill Clinton On Why Nelson Mandela Became 'A Hero'

Former President Bill Clinton weighed in on the late South African President Nelson Mandela, telling CNN he "became a hero because he survived and he thrived and he served."

"And he did it because he was free and because people felt that -- and he was able to engender -- this is a tribute to the rest of South Africa. He was able to engender a level of trust in people because he trusted them," Clinton said. "And it worked out for him, uh, in a way that was altogether fitting and just. He was an astonishing human being."

Mandela passed away Thursday at the age of 95. Clinton, who said he had a "genuine friendship" with Mandela, will attend the civil rights activist's funeral, along with President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush.

Read more from CNN's interview with Clinton here.



Politicians React To Mandela's Death