All of Madiba's men

Published: 11 December, 2013 08:06 IST | Agencies |

Tens of thousands of South Africans braved the rain and converged in sorrow, celebration and pride at Soweto's World Cup stadium to bid adieu to their 'triumph' Nelson Mandela; they found themselves taking seats side-by-side with presidents, priests and heads of states at the memorial service

No one like you! Supporters take their seats as the image of the anti-aparthied hero flashes on a jumbo screen at the stadium before the memorial. Undeterred by persistent rain, and in the build-up to the ceremony mourners screamed in celebration whenever members of Mandela’s family appeared on the big screen. The event began with a rendition of South Africa’s national anthem — the only music during the service. 

Pics/AFP, Getty Images

Mahatma of our times: President Pranab Mukherjee eulogised Nelson Mandela as ‘an icon of irreversible social and economicchanges’ who lived a life of sacrifice and had an uncommon humanness which inspired all. “Mandela had an uncommon human-ness which inspired all.” Mukherjee headed a high level Indian delegation including Sonia Gandhi and Sushma Swaraj.

A handshake for history
Nelson Mandela’s memorial service brought together -- briefly -- the leaders of two long-estranged countries: The United States and Cuba. US President Obama shook hands with Cuban President Raul Castro during the service at which both spoke. The United States and Cuba have not had diplomatic relations with Cuba since the communist revolution led by Castro’s brother Fidel more than 50 years ago. Obama was one of the six world leaders who gave a speech in front of the packed crowds. He was cheered on as he said, “For the people of South Africa, for those he inspired around the globe -- Madiba’s passing is rightly a time of mourning, and a time to celebrate a heroic life. We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. But let me say to the young people of Africa, and young people around the world - you can make his life's work your own.”

One love: U2’s lead singer Bono poses with actress Charlize Theron at the memorial. Other celebrities such as Richard Branson and supermodel Naomi Campbell were also in the crowds

Tribute: Many of those attending the memorial were decked out in national flags and danced to celebrate their leader’s life.

Coming together: Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Mandela (extreme left) bent down and embraced Graca Machel before taking her own seat at the service. They held onto each other for a few moments, both clad in black jackets. Winnie took her seat threeseats to the left of Graca.

Two planes and a funeral: Sense some tension in the air? Perhaps, it’s because after snubbing French President Francois Hollande’s invitation to travel together for the memorial, former president Nicolas Sarkozy had to sit with him during the service.

Leaders speak

David Cameron, British PM

There is never a wrong time to do the right thing and his generosity and his (Mandela’s) forgiveness were so important to bring people together. There are so many parts of the world, in fact all parts of the world where we need that kind of attitude

Barack Obama, US president

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 your hope found expression in his life. And your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy...
It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer as well to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion and generosity and truth. He changed laws, but he also changed hearts... With honesty, regardless of our station or our circumstance, we must ask: How well have I applied his lessons in my own life? It's a question I ask myself, as a man and as a President... We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. But let me say to the young people of Africa and the young people around the world - you, too, can make his life's work your own.

Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General

South Africa has lost a hero, we have lost a father and the world has lost a beloved friend and mentor. Nelson Mandela was more than one of the greatest leaders of our time, he was one of our greatest teachers. He taught by example, he sacrificed so much and was willing to give up everything for freedom, equality and justice. His compassion stands out most.

Pranab Mukherjee, India president

His (Mandela’s) life and struggles which represented hope for the downtrodden not only in South Africa but all over the world, remind us of the principles that the father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi stood for. We, in India, have long admired him -- and all that he stood for -- and we will always cherish his friendship and love for our people.  

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