Mandela Memorial Service Underway In South Africa

People danced and swayed to music under a sea of colorful rain umbrellas as crowds gathered at a huge soccer stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We're also following the news today from South Africa, where tens of thousands of people - including some 100 world leaders - are at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. It's underway now at a giant soccer stadium, and NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is there. And, Ofeibea, what's happening?

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: My goodness, Steve. Listen to the music. There's been joyful music. There's been mournful music. There's been soulful music. South Africans have come here in their numbers. Even though it's raining here at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, it's a sea of colorful umbrellas as people dance and sway. This is clearly a celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela. I'm looking to my left, a wonderful portrait of the smiling Nelson Mandela, and to my right, the same thing, and then Nelson Mandela with his comrades with whom he went to prison. And just before I came on the air, Steve, a huge cheer for his widow, Graca Machel. And the heads of states and the royalty and the paupers and the princes are all here to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. It is a memorial, but it's almost a thanksgiving, as well. I think people are so grateful to what Nelson Mandela and his generation of freedom fighters did to liberate South Africa with equality for all South Africans of all colors and creed as the vision for the Rainbow Nation, as he called it.

INSKEEP: NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton with a quick update on the ongoing memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela. Ofeibea, we'll check back with you again. Thanks very much.

QUIST-ARCTON: Sure.

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