Obama leads tributes to Mandela at memorial service

US President Barack Obama has led the tributes to Nelson Mandela saying that South Africa's democracy is his "cherished legacy." Thousands gathered in Johannesburg to celebrate the life of the former South African president.

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Obama: 'We will never see the likes of Mandela again'

US President Barack Obama said the world would "never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again" as he delivered a speech at the anti-apartheid leader's memorial service.

Barack Obama delivering his speech at Nelson Mandela's memorial service. Credit: RTV

He said: "We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. But let me say to the young people of Africa, and young people around the world - you too can make his life’s work your own.

"Over thirty years ago, while still a student, I learned of Nelson Mandela and the struggles in this beautiful land.

"It stirred something in me, it woke me up to my responsibilities - to others, and to myself - and set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be a better man, he speaks to what is best inside us.

"After this great liberator is laid to rest; when we have returned to our cities and villages, and rejoined our daily routines, let us search for his strength - let us search for his largeness of spirit - somewhere inside ourselves."

'Mandela understood the ties that bind human spirit'

US President Barack Obama said at Nelson Mandela's memorial service: "Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit.

"There is a word in South Africa, Ubuntu, a word that captures his greatest gift, his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us."

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Obama: Mandela's imperfections why 'we loved him so'

US President Barack Obama said Nelson Mandela's imperfections were part of the reasons why "we loved him so."

He said: "It was precisely because he could admit to imperfection - because he could be so full of good humour, even mischief, despite the heavy burdens he carried - that we loved him so.

"He was not a bust made of marble; he was a man of flesh and blood - a son and husband, a father and a friend. That is why we learned so much from him; that is why we can learn from him still."

Obama: Mandela's legacy is South Africa's democracy

US President Barack Obama has paid tribute to Nelson Mandela saying that South Africa's democracy is his "cherished legacy."

President Barack Obama speaks at the memorial service

He said: "It is a singular honour to be with you today, to celebrate a life unlike any other. To the people of South Africa - people of every race and walk of life - the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us.

"To the people of South Africa - people of every race and walk of life - the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us. His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph.

"Your dignity and hope found expression in his life, and your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy."

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