Mandela memorial service in SA: Thousands attend in Johannesburg


The national memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela is under way in Johannesburg.

Tens of thousands of South Africans have joined dozens of world leaders in the FNB stadium.

In his address, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said South Africa had "lost a hero and a father" and the world "one of our greatest teachers".

US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro will be among the other speakers.

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

The country is observing a series of commemorations leading up to the funeral on Sunday.

'A mighty life'
The memorial service is one of the biggest gatherings of international dignitaries in recent years.

Continue reading the main story
World leaders attending

US President Barack Obama
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Cuban President Raul Castro
French President Francois Hollande
British Prime Minister David Cameron
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
In pictures: Memorial service
Who will attend Mandela's memorial?
It 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.

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."

~Many people stood in the rain waiting for several hours to get into the stadium, the BBC's Pumza Fihlani reports from the scene.

She says the crowds are in high spirits - singing and dancing, stomping their feet - and the stadium has the feel of a political rally.

Rather than seeing the rain as a dampener, many in South Africa have welcomed it.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said: "It's a blessing from the ancestors welcoming a son of the soil."

One of those attending, Shahida Rowe from Johannesburg, told the BBC: "The core of Mandela's life was humanity. That is why I am here today and the world is celebrating.

Average: 4 (2 votes)



kwasi's picture

great man indeed

Add new comment