Crowds, Dignitaries Gather for Mandela Memorial Service

World | December 10, 2013, Tuesday // 09:18
Crowds, Dignitaries Gather for Mandela Memorial Service: Crowds, Dignitaries Gather for Mandela Memorial Service Former South African president Nelson Mandela died aged 95 last Thursday. Photo EPA/BGNES

Thousands of people are expected to attend Tuesday's memorial for former South African president Nelson Mandela.

Mandela died aged 95 last Thursday.

The memorial will be held at the soccer stadium that hosted the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2010 World Cup. There, the former president made his last public appearance.

The FNB stadium in Johannesburg has a capacity of 95 000. The service will also be shown on big screens at three "overflow" stadiums.

The crowds will be addressed by South African President Jacob Zuma. US President Barack Obama is also scheduled to speak, along with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Cuban President Raul Castro.

The memorial service is one of the biggest gatherings of international dignitaries in recent years as it will be attended by almost 100 world leaders.

Crowds stood in the rain waiting for several hours to get into the stadium. Many are wearing Nelson Mandela T-shirts or South African football or rugby tops, and are singing songs from the fight against apartheid, the BBC correspondent reports.

The ceremony will be aired live by the Bulgarian public TV, BNT, starting at 11 am local time.

The country is observing a series of commemorations leading up to the funeral on Sunday, December 15.

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Tags: South Africa, president, Jacob Zuma, Nelson Mandela, state funeral, Johannesburg, memorial, Barack Obama, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Dilma Rousseff, Brazilian, Cuban, Raul Castro, FNB stadium
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