The memorial service today was a beautiful celebration of the life of a man whom we all love and admire. Leaders gathered from all over the world, joining throngs of people dressed in colourful attire and sporting flags, T-shirts and other mementos for Madiba. Global representatives paid homage to the greatest leader of our generation, each bringing unique memories bearing further testimony to the way Tata shaped our world and each and every one of us. It was a solemn occasion but also a joyful one, in true South African style.
Here are some of our favourite quotes from the ceremony – it has to be said that the ever-eloquent Obama stole the show and our hearts with his sincere and beautifully poignant words. He also made history by shaking Raul Castro’s hand and greeting Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, with a kiss despite political tension.
WORDS FROM OBAMA
“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.”
“Given the sweep of his life, and the adoration that he so rightly earned, it is tempting then to remember Nelson Mandela as an icon, smiling and serene, detached from the tawdry affairs of lesser men. But Madiba himself strongly resisted such a lifeless portrait.”
“Finally, Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit. There is a word in South Africa – Ubuntu – that describes his greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.”
“While I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be a better man.”
WORDS FROM ZUMA
“He leaves behind a nation that loves him dearly. He leaves a continent that is truly proud to call him African.”
“Madiba never hesitated to speak his mind, regardless of how uncomfortable his words may be.”
“Under his leadership, the democratically elected government focused on building a democratic society based on non-racialism and non-sexism.”
President Jacob Zuma also announced that the Union Buildings amphitheatre will be renamed the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre.
AND FINALLY, A WORD FROM THE ARCH
“We thank you God and we promise you God that we are going to follow the example of Nelson Mandela!”