World leaders extol Mandela at memorial

Mandela(Clockwise from top) Sonia Gandhi and other dignitaries at the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela in Soweto, near Johannesburg, Tuesday; thousands brave the rain to gather at the First National Bank Stadium, also known as Soccer City, and US President Barack Obama greets Cuban President Raul Castro at the event. ap/reuters

In an outpouring of praise, remembrance and celebration, scores of leaders from around the world, including President Obama, joined tens of thousands of South Africans in a vast rain-swept soccer stadium here on Tuesday to pay common tribute to Nelson Mandela, whose struggle against apartheid inspired his own country and many far beyond its borders.

Huge cheers greeted Obama as he rose to offer a eulogy that blended a deep personal message with a broader appeal for Mandela's values to survive him.

"To the people of South Africa — people of every race and every walk of life — the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us," the president said. "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."

"It is hard to eulogize any man — to capture in words not just the facts and the dates that make a life, but the essential truth of a person — their private joys and sorrows; the quiet moments and unique qualities that illuminate someone's soul," Obama said. "How much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process moved billions around the world."

With his address punctuated by applause, Obama used Mandela's clan name to say: "It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer as well; to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion, generosity and truth. He changed laws, but also hearts."

People arriving for the ceremony reached for umbrellas and raincoats as a downpour drenched the stadium and the streets outside.

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