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'Madiba was our teacher and mentor'

Cyril Ramaphosa says while Madiba's journey is over, SA's is only beginning.

FILE: ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa

JOHANNESBURG - ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says Nelson Mandela's inner concept of self encapsulated the best of humanity.

"Today we will reflect on a life that transcended on the fault lines of our humanity. A life that took under its care millions of South Africans who were oppressed under apartheid. He took their humiliation and dignity they were stripped of and made them his very own."

Ramaphosa opened the massive memorial service currently taking place at the FNB Stadium in honour of the global icon.

He opened his address with the lines: "Long live the spirit of Nelson Mandela, long live. Viva the spirit of Nelson Mandela. Viva."

He welcomed President Jacob Zuma, former presidents Thabo Mbeki and FW de Klerk, members of the Mandela family including Graca Machel and Winnie Madikizela Mandela, the ANC leadership and the leaders and excellencies of various countries who have come to South Africa.

"Let us give Mandela's friends and friends of South Africa from all over the world a warm South African welcome. We have over 100 countries represented here today, easily representing millions around the world who are bidding farewell to Mandela."

He said Madiba would have wanted to be sent off in rainy weather.

"In our tradition, when it rains when you are buried, it means your Gods are welcoming you to heaven."

He applauded the people of South Africa for the dignified manner in which they have been honouring Mandela's memory since he passed away.

"We applaud you and thank you for that."

He said the occasion should make everyone pause and reflect on the life of Mandela.

"Today's memorial service should help each of us gather our memories of Mandela and on Sunday, we will bid him farewell in Qunu knowing our memories of him will endure forever."

He said while Mandela's long walk is over, South Africa's journey is only beginning.

"He can finally rest and enjoy the view of our beautiful country. A view he discovered when he began walking the hills of his birthplace Mvezo."