On Tuesday, nearly 100 world leaders and thousands of mourners all over the world gathered in South Africa to remember freedom fighter and South African civil rights leader Nelson Mandela.
Singing, dancing and at times crying, those who traveled to the Johannesburg stadium gathered in the rain and united in tribute to the global symbol. Nearly all living U.S. presidents joined other dignitaries and heads of states at the service. The FNB Stadium seats about 94,000 people, but overflow stadiums are holding the thousands of others who showed up for the service.
Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, George W. Bush and his wife Laura, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter attended today’s service to pay their respects to the former South African President.
As a steady rain fell, Obama spoke to the crowds at the memorial service.
“To Graça Machel and the Mandela family; to President Zuma and members of the government; to heads of state and government, past and present; distinguished guests – it is a singular honor to be with you today, to celebrate a life unlike any other. To the people of South Africa – people of every race and walk of life – the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us. His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and hope found expression in his life, and your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy.”
Other speakers included South African President Jacob Zuma, the presidents of Brazil, Namibia and India, and tributes from Mandela’s grandchildren.
Here is the official program from today’s service:
Mandela’s body will be moved to Pretoria, where it will lie in state until a burial ceremony in the late president’s ancestral village of Qunu on Sunday.