#Mandela Memorial: World Leaders Converge, Give Tribute…

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Mandela Memorial
source: bbc.co.uk/news

Tens of thousands of South Africans have joined dozens of world leaders for the national memorial service for former President Nelson Mandela.

The service was held in front of a vociferous crowd in the FNB stadium in Johannesburg.

US President Barack Obama said Mr Mandela was a “giant of history”, adding: “The world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us”.

The former South African president died last Thursday, 5th December aged 95.

The country is observing a series of commemorations leading up to the funeral on Sunday. The memorial service is one of the biggest gatherings of international dignitaries in recent years.

There had been fears people would be turned away, but the heavy rain left areas of the 95,000 capacity stadium empty.

The service began about an hour late, with the singing of the national anthem.

Introducing the proceedings, the master of ceremonies, Cyril Ramaphosa, said that Mr Mandela’s “long walk is over… and he can finally rest”. Interfaith prayers were then held.

The first speaker, friend and fellow Robben Island inmate Andrew Mlangeni, said Mr Mandela had “created hope when there was none”.

Three of Mr Mandela’s grandchildren then delivered eulogies.

In his address, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said there was “sorrow for a mighty loss and celebration of a mighty life”.

He said: “South Africa has lost a hero, it has lost a father… He was one of our greatest teachers. He taught by example. He sacrificed so much and was willing to give up all he had for freedom and democracy.”

Mr Obama delivered his address to huge cheers. He said: “It is hard to eulogise any man… how much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation towards justice.”

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