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South Africans, world leaders gather to honor Nelson Mandela

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Leaders from around the world joined South Africans in honoring former president Nelson Mandela.

According to the Associated Press on Dec. 10, current and former heads of state gathered at a South African stadium to embrace Mandela's universal message of peace and justice. President Barack Obama delivered the keynote speech that electrified the thousands in attendance on a rain-soaked afternoon and brought a standing ovation from the scores of leaders who were in attendance.

Obama urged people from around the world to apply the lessons Mandela preached. Mandela, who emerged from 27 years in prison, embraced his enemies when he finally gained his freedom and promoted forgiveness and reconciliation in a then-torn nation.

Obama said in his speech:

We, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. (Mandela) woke me up to my responsibilities -- to others, and to myself -- and set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today.

Among the nearly 100 heads of state that were in attendance at FNB stadium, some were from countries that don't fully democratic elections. While he was on his way to the podium, Obama shook hands with Cuban President Raul Castro.

In stark contrast, South African President Jacob Zuma was booed. According to the AP, South Africans are unhappy with Zuma because of the recent state corruption scandals, even though he remains a front-runner in next years elections.

The man that Zuma replaced, former president Thabo Mbeki, received a rousing ovation from the crowds as he entered the stands. Mantlhogonolo Mothoagae, a postgraduate marketing student who arrived hours before the gates to the stadium opened, told the AP:

I would not have the life I have today if it was not for him. He was jailed so we could have freedom.

Stay tuned.

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