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State funeral of Nelson Mandela brings leaders from around the world

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The funeral of former South African president Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, Dec. 10 brought people together at a memorial ceremony at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium where Mandela's life was celebrated rather than mourned.

The state funeral was one of the world's biggest events that drew millions of mourners from around the globe in one place at the same time. According to The Telegraph, Clayson Monyela, the government's head of public diplomacy, said:

"The world literally is coming to South Africa. I don't think it has ever happened before."

Some 91 heads of state and government, including four U.S. Presidents attended the ceremony: Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. President Obama gave remarks in which he called Mandela "the last great liberator of the twentieth century."

World religious leaders from different faiths gave remarks at beginning of the funeral.

Queen Elizabeth did not make the journey, but the 87-year-old monarch's son, Prince Charles represented her at the funeral in the remote village where the former South African president grew up.

Cold rain came down on the people in the stadium in Soweto, but it did not dampen spirits as they paid their last respects to their inspirational first black president who had spent 27 years in prison for his involvement against apartheid.

Harry Tshabalala, a driver for the justice ministry said:

"In our culture the rain is a blessing. Only great, great people are memorialized with it. Rain is life. This is perfect weather for us on this occasion."

The soccer stadium was the spot where Mandela made his last public appearance at the closing ceremony of the World Cup.

After the memorial, Mandela's body will lie in state for three days at the Union Buildings in Pretoria that had once been the seat of white power. Mandela's burial will be on Sunday in his rural childhood village of Qunu in Eastern Cape Province.

Nelson Mandela left a great mark on the world.


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