As Rain Pours, Mourners Celebrate Mandela's Legacy

Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep speaks with NPR's Gregory Warner, who's at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa, where the memorial service for former President Nelson Mandela is being held. The mood is celebratory as attendees dance and remember Mandela's service to South Africa.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.


It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne. More than 50,000 people attended a rainy and emotional memorial for Nelson Mandela today in Johannesburg. Scores of world leaders and dignitaries were in attendance, including President Barack Obama, who gave a lengthy tribute to the man he credits for inspiring his own journey into politics. NPR's Gregory Warner reports from Johannesburg.


GREGORY WARNER, BYLINE: President Obama received massive cheers from the South African crowd, and additional huzzahs every time he quoted Mr. Mandela in this tribute to the man he called, quote, "the last great liberator of the 20th century." Obama said, quote, "It is tempting to remember Nelson Mandela as an icon, smiling and serene." But in his speech, he praised not just Mandela's role as a force of reconciliation and peace, but as a force of resistance.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Perhaps Mandela was right, that he inherited a proud rebelliousness, a stubborn sense of fairness from his father.

WARNER: The sheets of rain that fell throughout the morning tempered the crowds of mourners somewhat as overflow stadiums set up with television screens were mostly empty. But South Africans will have additional chances to say their farewells. Mandela lies in state in Pretoria for three days. He'll be buried on Sunday in a family plot in his home village of Qunu on the eastern Cape. Gregory Warner, NPR News, Johannesburg.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.