President Barack Obama and several world leaders gathered today (December 10) to honor the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, who passed away last Thursday at the age of 95. In a moving address delivered inside a large soccer stadium, President Obama celebrated the life of Mandela with graceful eloquence.
Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium was filled with thousands despite heavy downpours, and there were reported concerns of security. However, many of the attendees during the four-hour service were in a joyous way which shifted the somber mood of the ceremony upward.
Several world leaders delivered eulogies today, but Obama’s speech was significant as he has long considered Mandela an inspiration for his own historic pursuit. Using the name Madiba at times, which the late leader preferred, Obama compared Mandela to great leaders of lore and spoke at length how he should serve as an example for the world to follow.
From the eulogy:
Over 30 years ago, while still a student, I learned of Nelson Mandela and the struggles taking place in this beautiful land, and it stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities to others and to myself, and it 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 a better man. He speaks to what’s best inside us.
Other leaders who also spoke include U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Cuban President Raúl Castro.
Hit the jump to watch President Obama’s eulogy at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.