Nelson Mandela Memorial: South Africans honor Madiba

11:39 PM, Dec 10, 2013   |    comments
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SOWETO, South Africa (WUSA9) -- Tuesday was a day for the multitudes to sing Madiba asleep.

Hours before the memorial service began for Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium, early arrivals claimed the choice seats, under the canopy and out of the rain.

Those who loved Nelson Mandela the most, just average people of South Africa and the world, found comfort singing together the old songs of struggle and of liberation, with all their thanks for their liberator.

"We're free, we're free, we come pay tribute to an amazing icon. To our father."

Their friendship is what Mandela's legacy looks like. 

"I think Mandela has been a personal inspiration for me, he's had a huge impact."

A teacher waving the South African flag, dedicated his career to his inspiration. 

A flood of humanity poured into the stadium, in celebration, shouting "Viva Madiba!"

Lauren Nkoma remembers walking to this same stadium in 1990 to see Mandela soon after his release. 


"And to be here, the same space again today, where he is now being, his life is celebrated, and we're bidding him goodbye, I get goosebumps just talking about it," Nkoma said.

Everywhere, people are sharing personal stories of how Mandela changed their lives for the better and they credit his example of fighting for what is right with forgiveness and reconciliation.

Today also marks the 20th anniversary of the day when Mandela and South Africa's last apartheid-era president, F.W. de Klerk, received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to bring peace to their country.

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