A day of memory tainted by controversy

The national memorial service for Madiba saw touching speeches, booing at Zuma and disorganised transport.

"People came with umbrellas at FNB Stadium as the rain poured down during Nelson Mandela memorial on 10 December 2013. Picture: Christa Van der Walt/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - In an outpouring of praise, remembrance and celebration, leaders from around the world joined thousands of South African's at FNB stadium near Soweto to salute former president Nelson Mandela.

Madiba passed away last week at the age of 95 after a long struggle with a recurring lung infection.

Hundreds of heads of state, celebrities and dignitaries converged on the calabash on Tuesday to honour the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Mourners left the stadium singing, "Nelson Mandela, we love you."

But many waited for hours for a bus back home.

Earlier on Tuesday, Metrorail had lengthy delays resulting in many late arrivals.

By the time the service officially ended, most people had already left the building and dignitaries and guests were escorted off the stage by security personnel.

Those who left early said they couldn't hear what was being said due to constant singing as well as booing.


President Jacob Zuma speaks at the national memorial service. Picture: AFP.

President Jacob Zuma delivered his key-note address praising Madiba for his determination, humility and negotiating skills.

But the president was loudly booed from sections of the stadium.

When his arrival was announced, the sound of booing suddenly erupted, followed by the chant, "Mbeki".

Former president Thabo Mbeki, who was ousted by Zuma supporters, received a warm welcome, along with former president FW de Klerk.

To the surprise of some, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe also received a warm reception.

But the booing continued whenever Zuma appeared on the big screen.

At one point, the screen was turned off and MC and ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa asked people to show discipline.

When Zuma spoke, booing continued but a number of people also cheered him on.


Barack Obama delivers his tribute to Madiba. Picture: Sapa.

When US President Barack Obama took to the podium earlier in the event, the crowd erupted in a roar of praise and support.

He told the massive crowd that Madiba is one of his greatest inspirations.

"[His story] woke me up to life's responsibilities, to others and myself. It sent me out on an improbable journey to where I am today. While I will always fall short of Madiba's example, he makes me want to be a better man."

Obama said Madiba's death marked the time to celebrate the man who changed the course of history.

"He changed laws but also hearts. For the people of South Africa and for those he inspired around the globe, Madiba's passing is rightly a time of mourning and a time to celebrate his heroic life.

"But I believe it should also prompt in each of us a time for self-reflection. With honesty, regardless of our station or circumstance, we must ask: How well have I applied his lessons in my own life?"

Barack Obama speaks at the memorial service. Picture: Herman Verwey/Mandela Pool.

He compared Mandela to Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King, saying the world is not likely to see another Mandela.

America's first ever black president urged nations around the globe to continue Madiba's work.

Obama has often said that South Africa's first black president inspired his own entry into politics.

He spoke of the Ubuntu [togetherness] and ended by saying, "We will miss him deeply. May God bless the memory of Nelson Mandela. May God bless the people of South Africa."


Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu flanked by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan

at the memorial. Picture: @KetyDC via twitter.

Towards the end of the service, when Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu took to the stage, he reprimanded the crowd and ordered mourners to show the world that South Africans are disciplined.

"We want to say thank you to that world, but you must show that world that we are disciplined and so I want to hear a pin drop."

He called for a moment of silence and prayer, blessed the mourners and prayed for the nation to follow in Madiba's footsteps.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela laughed and smiled at the animated Tutu, who caught the attention of the people who were still left in the stadium.


Mandela family and friends arrive at the FNB Stadium. Picture: Herman Verwey/Mandela Pool.

The former president's grandchildren also took to the podium, delivering powerful messages of tribute and hope.

Phumla Mandela shared these special words: "When sadness and celebrations co-mingle, the body shudders, shakes and implodes. Ancestral winds blow memories.

"You are a legend in our memories, you tower over the world like a comet leaving streaks of light for us to follow."

Andile Mandela called on the nation to continue the walk for a better South Africa.

"A giant tree has fallen, scattering a billion bright leaves, each replicating a million messages of peace, of love and reconciliation."

Long-time friend, fellow Rivonia trialist and Robben Island inmate Andrew Mlangeni says Madiba managed to unite people of all ages , races and faiths.

"Madiba is looking down on us now and there is no doubt, he's smiling as he watches his beloved countrymen and women unite to celebrate his life and legacy."

Mlangeni says Mandela was able to steer the nation, even during difficult moments.

"He was an incomparable force of leadership, acceptance and kindness that illuminated the way forward through our nation's darkest hour. He inspired us all by entering the den of the enemy and ultimately, together with the people of South African and the world, defeated oppression and subjugation - not by force but by peace, understanding and love."

African Union Commission Chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma thanked Madiba for the countless sacrifices he made and the lessons he taught the world.

"Tata, now that the tapestry of your beautiful but not easy life is complete, it is a mosaic of patriotism, pan-Africanism, sacrifice, simplicity, compassion, reconciliation, discipline and humility. It tells us of a person who hated oppression of one by another, a brilliant cadre, a leader of the African National Congress, the father of the modern South Africa."

Winnie Madikizela Mandela and Gra├ža Machel at the service. Picture: AFP.