originally by: BBC News
published: 9 December 2013
Tens of thousands of South Africans have joined dozens of world leaders for the national memorial service for former President Nelson Mandela.
The service is being held in front of a vociferous crowd in the FNB stadium in Johannesburg. US President Barack Obama said Mr Mandela was a “giant of history”, adding: “The world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us”.
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. The memorial service is one of the biggest gatherings of international dignitaries in recent years.
There had been fears people would be turned away, but the heavy rain left areas of the 95,000 capacity stadium empty.
Introducing the proceedings, the master of ceremonies, Cyril Ramaphosa, said that Mr Mandela’s “long walk is over… and he can finally rest”.