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Mixed response to Zuma at Madiba memorial

Loud booing erupted as the president approached the podium, but many in the crowd also cheered.

President Jacob Zuma speaks at the national memorial service for Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium on 10 December 2013. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday addressed former president Nelson Mandela's memorial service at the FNB Stadium near Soweto.

He took to the podium shortly before 3pm.

A praise singer introduced Zuma, saying, "He's the man of all men. Msholozi from Nkandla."

Loud booing erupted as the president approached the podium, but many in the crowd also cheered.

Watched by hundreds of heads of state, royalty and other dignitaries as well as millions around the world, Zuma's mixed welcome created a storm on Twitter.

#MandelaMemorial some people walk out as Zuma delivers the keynote address, "he is corrupt"

Clever maneuvering from Cyril and the ANC: Praise singer followed by Madiba freedom song has stifled the booing and Zuma is being heard now.

Zuma's on - they've turned up his mike to drown out the boos. After struggling to hear the entire service, we're now being deafened.

When Zuma greeted the crowd in the official languages of South Africa, loud cheers followed each phrase.

Zuma greets in different languages. Crowd responds enthusiastically. This is a bipolar crowd. #MandelaMemorial

Zuma told the audience that Mandela's life and legacy was best epitomised by a popular struggle song.

"We sing that he is one of a kind and that there is no one quite like him. The song is one of the most accurate descriptions of this global icon, who is the founding president of a free and democratic South Africa."

The president said Madiba's passing marked an unprecedented outpouring of grief and celebration across the world.

"Never before has our country celebrated a life as we are doing with that of Madiba today. We don't call him the father of our rainbow nation for political correctness; we do so because he laid a firm foundation for the South Africa of our dreams."

Zuma emphasised Mandela's courage, saying although Madiba understood the possible consequences of his actions as a lawyer, he also knew no unjust system could last forever.

He also mentioned that Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary of Mandela being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

"He was a fearless freedom fighter who refused to allow the brutality of the apartheid state to stand in the way of the struggle for the liberation of his people."

Zuma said for 27 years, South Africans spoke about Madiba in hushed tones out of fear.

Despite this, Mandela's powerful name continued to inspire people every single day from inside prison walls.

The president says Madiba's release from prison was one of the most remarkable and moving moments in world history.

"The world came to a standstill watching this tall, imposing figure walking out into a world he had left behind 27 years before. The enormous emotions and feelings we felt on that day are still difficult to express in human language."

He says Mandela was instrumental in the road to transition.

"In the bumpy road to our historic first free and fair elections, there were many times he brought our nation back from the brink catastrophe."

Zuma says the whole world is standing still again today, paying tribute to the greatest son of South Africa and Africa.

"There is no one like Madiba - he is one of a kind. He made sure that everyone had a better life. We remember a man above all men who died for us."

Like Obama, Zuma said Mandela never wanted to be viewed as a saint, saying he believed all his achievements were derived from working with the ANC as a collective.

As his tribute drew to a close, Zuma said, "Today, Madiba is no more. He leaves behind a nation who loves him dearly and a continent truly proud to call him an African."

Zuma then announced that the amphitheater at the Union Buildings, where Madiba's remains will lie in state from tomorrow until Friday, will be called the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre.

He extended his condolences once again to Mandela's family.

"Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. Rest in Peace Madiba, king of all kings, our father, our hero."