Barack Obama, Desmond Tutu, David Cameron and Naomi Campbell were all in attendance at Nelson Mandela's memorial service
Celebrities, world leaders, politicians, family members and fans have gathered in Johannesburg this afternoon to pay their respects to Nelson Mandela at a public memorial service at Soweto’s FNB stadium.
President Obama led the tributes, telling the crowd: ‘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.’
He went on to compare the former South African President to Martin Luther King and Gandhi, saying: ‘Born during World War I, far from the corridors of power, a boy raised herding cattle and tutored by elders of his Thembu tribe – Madiba would emerge as the last great liberator of the 20th century.’
Discussing Mandela’s struggle and how it inspired him, he added: ‘It stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities – to others, and to myself – and set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today.
‘And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be better. He speaks to what is best inside us.’
The memorial service was attended by thousands, including Mandela’s former wife Winnie, and his widow, Graca Mandela. Three of his grandchildren took the stage together to deliver their own touching tribute, telling the crowd ‘a great tree has fallen… shall we walk in his footsteps?’
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma was in attendance, alongside David Cameron and Tony Blair, plus former US Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush and Jimmy Carter.
The celebrity attendees included Bono, Charlize Theron and Naomi Campbell.
Mandela’s body will lie in state in Pretoria from tomorrow until Friday. His state funeral is on Sunday in his Eastern Cape village of Qunu.