Thousands gather for Mandela service

JOHANNESBURG - Thousands of people are gathering at a stadium in Johannesburg for a memorial service for Nelson Mandela.

US President Barack Obama, Cuban President Raul Castro and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will address the service, as will four of Mr Mandela's grandchildren.

The service at the 95,000-capacity FNB stadium is scheduled to start soon but people are still trying to enter.

The former South African president died aged 95 last Thursday.

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.

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 is beginning to have the feel of a political rally.

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.

"Thanks to him, I was recognised as a human being."

Comments (2)

Rest in eternal peace Mr Mandela

Ronald Phakathi - 10 December 2013

The eulogy presented by Obama at the Mandela memorial should be framed in Gold. Obama says he acknowledges his political awakening and consciousness was brought about by Mandela..It was a touching moment, one generation's great heaping praise on the generation that gave birth to it..Both Africans too..That Mandela made the black man, where ever he may have been grow a few inches taller..Now if Mandela was good enough for export, imagine the number of little Mandelas who are running up and down the continent from Tunis to the Devil's peak on Table Mountain. Isnt it said great leadership bequeaths one legacy on the world..it has this GIANT capacity to reproduce itself. This forsaken dark continent has seen what it needs to do to get the respect of its siblings elsewhere..it to walk in the footsteps of Mandela and as things stand..IT LOOKS LIKE THEY ARE NOT GOING TO BE STOPPED...now that they have found the way..Lead on Papa Mandela as in death as in LIFE!

gutter poet - 10 December 2013

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