World leaders, South Africa pay tribute to Mandela - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

World leaders, South Africa pay tribute to Mandela


Thousands of people, including President Obama and three former US presidents, paid their respects Tuesday to Nelson Mandela. His memorial service drew world leaders from nearly 100 countries.

The large public memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela  was broadcast live early this morning to millions around the world. The service was held near Soweto and his body was transported to Pretoria, where it will lie in state for the next three days.

VIPs, celebrities and heads of state from all over the world gathered here in South Africa along with residents, some of whom have been standing outside since early in the morning.

Despite the rain, thousands of South Africans waited outside FNB Stadium this morning. They were told to come five hours early. Some came even earlier than that.
"I came here early in the morning at 3 o'clock. I'm here to respect Tata Madiba (Mandela)," said Bika Ngcobo.

There was singing and dancing at Soccer City - informal tributes from a grateful nation.
"I feel indebted, I feel obligated to honor the man who has paid a heavy price for South Africa where we are at," said Paul Powell, Johannesburg resident.
"Because he set a sign all over the world - a sign about skin color, love between every races, a general sign for peace," said Sven Eckhoff, a visitor to South Africa from Germany.
The president arrived in South Africa just hours before the service was scheduled to begin. He gave a powerful and personal tribute to the man who inspired him, praising Mandela as the last great liberator of the 20th century.
"Mandela taught us the power of action, but he also taught us the power of ideas; the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those you agree with, but those who you don't agree with," said Obama.

South African President Jacob Zuma also spoke - and endured some booing from the large crowd. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was another speaker at the memorial.

Mandela's family members paid tribute to him, too.

General Thanduxolo Mandela was the first of many to address the crowd at FNB Stadium today.

"We have always been mindful that we share Madiba with the rest of South Africa, Africa and the world. Madiba was a great man," he said.

Three of Mandela's grandchildren followed to read a tribute to their grandfather that sounded much like a poem.


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