As the world continues to mourn his passing, the nation of South Africa was alive at Johnannesburg’s FNB Stadium on Tuesday for the national memorial for their late former leader Nelson Mandela.
Among those to attend the service were former President Bill Clinton, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton, Bono of U2, former President George Bush and his wife, Laura.
Prior to the President’s introduction, gospel recording artist Kirk Franklin collaborated with South African music group Joyous Celebration for a moving performance of Franklin’s God’s Property 90s classic, “My Life is in Your Hands.”
Afterwards the President was greeted by a roar of tens of thousands’ of cheering South Africa citizens and 90-plus heads of state from around the world:
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.
After this great liberator is laid to rest and when we’ve returned to our cities and villages and rejoined our daily routines, let us search for his strength. Let us search for his largeness of spirit somewhere inside of ourselves. And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, when our best laid plans seem beyond our reach, let us think of Madiba and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of his cell:
‘It matters not how straight the gate, how charged the punishment the scroll, I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul. What a magnificent soul it was. We will miss him deeply.’
You can watch Barack Obama’s speech in its entirety in the video up top. A state funeral for Mandela will take place on Sunday, December 15th in Mandela’s ancestral hometown of Qunu in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province.