World bids farewell to 'Madiba'

12/10/2013, 3:59 p.m.
Even as effusive praise has continued to pour in for Mandela and his legacy, there has been criticism as well, ...
A mourner holds the official memorial program.

“He was courageous through long years of abuse and imprisonment. He was magnanimous and a force for peace and reconciliation when he was released and catapulted to the presidency. Others in his circumstances have become dictators and authoritarian leaders, exacting vengeance on their enemies. He came to be admired even by those who had once opposed him. The world has lost a great man.”

South African President Jacob Zuma gave the keynote address at the memorial. The world will now watch to see if the wave of emotion triggered by Mandela’s passing can buoy Zuma’s ANC government as it faces protests over persisting poverty, crime and unemployment six months ahead of elections.

The mourning for Mandela has distracted attention from corruption scandals affecting Zuma and his administration. But memories of the former president’s five-year tenure, from 1994 until he stepped down in 1999, have reminded many just how distant Zuma’s South Africa still is from the “Rainbow Nation” ideal of shared prosperity and social peace that Mandela proclaimed after his election.

South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies on the planet.

Mandela’s remains now lie in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where he was sworn in as president in 1994. He will be buried on Sunday, Dec. 15, in Qunu, his ancestral home in the rolling, windswept hills of the Eastern Cape province, 450 miles south of Johannesburg.