World

Dec 10, 2013 5:50 AM by Bethany Rhodes

Mourners and world leaders gather in South Africa for Mandela memorial at Soweto stadium


JOHANNESBURG (AP) - World leaders and joyous, singing South Africans have gathered to honor Nelson Mandela at a Soweto soccer stadium.

A cold, driving rain has kept many people away, and the 95,000 seat stadium has been about two-thirds full so far.

The ceremony began about an hour late, and while the mood was celebratory, the crowds twice booed scandal-plagued South African President Jacob Zuma, who is to give the keynote address.

A dazzling mix of royalty, statesmen and celebrities is in attendance, with the list running from Afghan President Hamid Karzai to Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who succeeded Mandela, got a rousing cheer as he entered the stands, while United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon waved and bowed to spectators.

One black student in the crowd said Mandela's 27 years in prison had brought him freedom. Another man, who said he grew up in a "privileged position" as a white South African, credited Mandela with helping release whites from a burden of guilt through the country's reconciliation process.

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