Leaders attend Mandela memorial

Published Tuesday, 10 December 2013
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Political leaders from around the world, including Northern Ireland's deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, have flown to South Africa to attend a national memorial service in honour of Nelson Mandela.

Leaders attend Mandela memorial
Thousands of people attended the commemoration. (© Getty)

British Prime Minister David Cameron, US President Barack Obama and Irish President Michael D Higgins are also among the dignitaries who attended the commemoration at Johannesburg's FNB Stadium on Tuesday.

Thousands of people gathered to pay tribute to the anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa, who died last Thursday aged 95.

Speeches were made by President Obama, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and South African president Jacob Zuma, as the extraordinary life of Nelson Mandela was celebrated.

"He was not a bust made of marble - he was a man of flesh and blood, a son and a husband, a father and a friend," Mr Obama told the crowd.

"That is why we have learned so much from him and that is why we can learn from him still.

"Nothing he achieved was inevitable - in the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness and persistence and faith."

Andrew Mlangeni, a former prisoner on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, spoke of the "outpouring of love" following his death.

"Madiba is looking down on us. There is no doubt he is smiling and he watches his beloved country, men and women, unite to celebrate his life and legacy," he said.

Ahead of his trip, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness told the Stormont Assembly on Monday: "This was a man who was an incredible supporter of our peace process, and I will be very honoured to represent our Executive and this Assembly at this memorial in South Africa."

Meanwhile, David Cameron had paid tribute in the House of Commons to a man he described as a "towering figure in our lifetime".

He added: "Progress is not just handed down as a gift, it is won through struggle - the struggle of men and women who believe things can be better, who refuse to accept the world as it is but dream of what it can be. Nelson Mandela was the embodiment of that struggle."

FNB Stadium, in the Soweto township, is where Mandela made his last public appearance at the closing ceremony of the 2010 football World Cup.

His funeral and burial will take place in his home village of Qunu on Sunday.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Belfast in Belfast wrote (128 days ago):
Ahead of his trip, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness told the Stormont Assembly on Monday: "This was a man who was an incredible supporter of our peace process, and I will be very honoured to represent our Executive and this Assembly at this memorial in South Africa." Im sure you will martin how long have you went out for. What a nice wee trip before xmas. Take it the tax payers are footing the bill again and im sure your not on your own.
Bob in Belfast wrote (129 days ago):
Not many there then ? what no hundreds of thousands ? aw well!! ...all hyped by liberal MSM.. still a terrorist !
vic in belfast wrote (130 days ago):
it is right and proper that Mandela is put up there with the greats of our age, but i find it hard to swallow coming from nations that still have holding centres or cowards who use drones to kill and from politcians who who would have called him a terrorist. And from some of our local guys who supported Apartheid and still support oppressive states, they are clutching on his coat of Righteousness in a grotesque attempt to gain credibility. How contradictory is it that earlier in the year cameron was dinning out in Sri Lanka and now praises Mandela.
Belfast in Belfast wrote (130 days ago):
And whose name is conspicuously absent from the list of World Leaders honouring President Mandela? Step forward P. Robinson of the parish of Ulster. Apparently he's too busy saving us from ourselves to attend. Oh dear... leaving the way clear for McGuinness & Adams to do the networking & lobbying unchallenged. Great political strategy, eh? Somebody show him the light and switch it on for him. Frankie, Belfast
Vincent Jordan in Aldergrove Co Antrim wrote (130 days ago):
I was privileged to have lived and worked in Cape Town From 1974 to 2007 some 33 years, a truly great experience and a wonderful country like Ireland once you have lived there it forever tugs on your heart. I have obviously been watching the coverage around the news of Nelson Mandela (Madiba) Death up to the Memorial Service today. He was really a remarkable man I always wanted to get to meet him while I was living there but unfortunately never had the honour. I can only hope therefore that in my own small way that I helped to contribute to South Africa’s Democracy. I am unable to get to sign any of the condolences books but were I able I would say the following : You may be gone but you will never be forgotten.
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