Electric atmosphere at CT Madiba memorial

Various politicians addressed the crowds, honouring former president Nelson Mandela.

Crowds begin to fill the Cape Town Stadium as the city's memorial for Nelson Mandela kicks off on 11 December 2013. Mia Spies/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - There is an electric atmosphere at the packed to capacity Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday evening where the Mother City is bidding farewell to former president Nelson Mandela.

Madiba died at his Johannesburg home on Thursday evening.

The event, titled Nelson Mandela: A Life Celebrated, kicked off at 4pm.

The sun sets over Cape Town stadium. Too much beauty #CTmemorial #madiba pic.twitter.com/OpnCvwuH6O

The function started with the national anthem, with tens of thousands joining together in song.

The atmosphere is joyous and with several people, some wearing ANC T-shirts, chanting "Rolihlahla."

The Rainbow Nation at Cape Town Stadium. Madiba's dream a reality. #CTMemorial pic.twitter.com/efgX89kaGg

A large yellow ANC banner with Madiba's face on it hangs on one side of the stadium.

After MC Shado Twala opened up the service, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille took the podium where she described Mandela as a leader, a visionary and the very best among us.

She says the South Africa of 1994 has long been forgotten but that, for now, the world grieves, saying, "We cry for you Madiba."

She urged spectators not to ever let Madiba's spirit die.

Cape Town stadium erupting in song and dance, insane #Madiba #ctmemorial pic.twitter.com/ddRz8b8Pus

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille told the crowd of her privilege of seeing Madiba earlier in the day as he lay in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

She said the experience was one of the most moving and momentous moments of her life.

Zille says she'll never forget it.

The premier says South Africa has seen a smiling Madiba on TV screens across the country, but that the smile masks the great pain of the 27 years he sacrificed to bring the nation freedom.

She says Madiba is at peace now and his face symbolises what South Africa must become - one nation at peace with itself and the world.

During her appearance, she received an overwhelming response from mourners when she started singing.

Madiba Memorial: Magnificent music and stadium sunset #ctmemorial #capetown pic.twitter.com/7UucW6cIRa

60k people in Cape Town stadium singing PataPata. Mind blowing. #ctmemorial

Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel was up next, saying it has been a long walk to freedom for South Africa.

He says the journey is not over yet.

Speaking at the ceremony earlier on Wednesday, former Springbok captain Francois Pienaar said sport was powerful as it taught people about humility and selflessness, just like Madiba did.

Pienaar also said he would never forget how proud Mandela was in 1995, smiling and holding up the Rugby World Cup trophy shortly after the Boks beat New Zealand at Ellis Park.

He says a herd boy from the Eastern Cape became one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen.

The former skipper then got the crowd to join in singing Shosholoza.

Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman then took over, chanting Amandla to the crowd.

He called on people to take Mandela's legacy forward.

Sea of South African Flags #ctmemorial #tataMadiba #proudtobehere pic.twitter.com/6Ijk6YWHOg