Mourners gather in South Africa for Nelson Mandela's memorial - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Obama urges world to act on Mandela legacy

Courtesy: Forbes Courtesy: Forbes

JOHANNESBURG (WKOW) -- President Barack Obama closed his eulogy at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in Johannesburg by marveling at what a “magnificent soul” the anti-apartheid icon was.

Obama says Nelson Mandela earned his place in history through struggle, shrewdness, persistence and faith.


In his eulogy, Obama compared Mandela to Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln.


Obama is urging the world to act on Mandela's legacy by fighting inequality, poverty and racism. He says progress in the U.S. and South Africa mustn't cloud the fact there's still work to be done. He says South Africa shows us that we can change.


During the ceremony focused on Mandela’s legacy of reconciliation, Obama shook hands with Cuban President Raul Castro in a greeting line of world leaders and heads of state. Recently, the U.S. and Cuba have taken steps towards dissolving tensions. Another leader Obama shook hands with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. This is despite the two having clashed over alleged spying by the National Security Agency.

Obama calls Mandela the last great liberator of the 20th century, and says he thinks about how to apply Mandela's lessons to himself as a man and as president.




JOHANNESBURG (WKOW) -- World leaders are gathering near Johannesburg for a memorial service honoring Nelson Mandela.

President Barack Obama will be one of them to eulogize Mandela. He arrived in South Africa late Monday night (Eastern Time). The memorial service will be held in the World Cup soccer stadium where the anti-apartheid champion made his last public appearance, FNB Stadium in Soweto. Soweto was the black township that was at the center of the violent struggle against apartheid.

About 100,000 mourners are expected at Mandela's memorial, including nearly 100 world leaders. Eulogies will also be given by Cuban President Raul Castro, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and China's Vice President Li Yuanchao. Mandela's grandchildren will also give tribute, along with the presidents of some other countries like Brazil, Namibia and India. South African President Jacob Zuma will give the keynote address.

Mourners are already starting to gather at the stadium, singing even though it's raining there. 

Police have promised tight security and are patrolling the area around the stadium.

Nelson Mandela died December 5 at the age of 95. His burial is Sunday.


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