World leaders and celebrities remember Nelson Mandela at joyous memorial service
10 DECEMBER 2013
As he did in life, in death Nelson Mandela is uniting people from all walks of life, race and political opinion. Barack and Michelle Obama flew into South Africa for his memorial service, sharing Air Force One with George W Bush and his wife Laura, as well as Hillary Clinton.
At the service in the 95,000-strong Soweto stadium, where there is a party like atmosphere punctuated by the sound of vuvezulas, Britain is represented by David Cameron and Tony Blair. From France came François Hollande, the current leader, and his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.
In a sign of the great man's star appeal several celebrities are also expected, led by Naomi Campbell, talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, Bono, Virgin chief Richard Branson and musician Peter Gabriel.
They will join the huge Mandela family, including his wife Graça Machel, his three daughters, Makaziwe, Zenani and Zindzi, 20 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren to celebrate the father of the Rainbow Nation.
The hero passed away peacefully on December 5 after battling courageously right up until the end.
Life and Times of Nelson Mandela
1918: Born into the Xhosa-speaking Thembu people
1927: His father died; the politician later said he inherited his "proud rebelliousness"
1941: Fled arranged marriage organised by his guardian
1943: Joined African National Congress
1943: Studied law at Witswaterand University
1944: Married Evelyn Ntoko Mase; they had four children
2013: Founded country's first all black law practice
1956: Charged with high treason, but charges dropped
1957: Marriage with Evelyn ended over his political commitment
1958: Married Winnie Madikizela; couple had two daughters
1962: Arrested, convicted of sabotage sentenced to five years
1964: Charged again sentenced to life
1990: Freed from prison
1993: Wins Nobel Peace Prize
1994: Becomes South Africa's first black president
1996: Divorces Winnie
1999: Steps down from presidency
2004: Retires from public life
2005: Announces his son has died from HIV/Aids-related illnesses