12:57 10 December 2013
Tens of thousands of people have gathered at FNB stadium to pay their last respect to Nelson Mandela, who died at the age of 95 last Thursday.
The guest list for the mourning ceremonies includes 52 presidents, 16 prime ministers, three vice-presidents, one king, four crown princes, and one grand duke as confirmed by The Times. Meanwhile, US president Barack Obama will share a stage with Cuban President Raul Castor today to honour Mandela.
Among the British also attending the service include David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, and John Major.
Speaking shortly after his arrival, Cameron told Sky News: "I think it's very important to show our respects and say goodbye to a remarkable man who did extraordinary things in South Africa but has also been such an inspiration to people across the world.
"It was an enormous honour to meet him and to talk to him and to be here today and to feel this atmosphere, I think will be a remarkable occasion."
Three former US presidents are on the list: Bill Clinton, George W Bush, and Jimmy Carter. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe, Francois Hollande, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas are also expected to come.
Among those who are going to make a speech include four of Mandela’s grandchildren, Andrew Mlangeni, and six foreign leaders.
Meanwhile, the tens of thousands of South Africans scramble to find a seat in the 95,000-seat FNB stadium. Times described it as “thrust into a crucible of grief, pride and unlikely political shoulder-rubbing.”
Johannesburg was blanketed by an unseasonal downpour of torrential rain during the event which kicked off an hour later than planned. Due to heavy traffic, tight security and the weather, the stadium was only half full when the ceremony began with thousands still waiting outside. But thousands still banded together to sing farewell to the late leader and global icon.
US President Barrack Obama took to the stage to declare: "To the people of South Africa - people of every race and walk of life - the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us.
"His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and hope found expression in his life, and your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy."
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