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In pictures: Celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela

Despite the foul weather, the mood at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg was festive, with dignitaries' speeches competing with singing and dancing among the spectators

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South Africans celebrate Nelson Mandela’s life at the FNB Stadium with singing and dancing, often during dignitaries’ speeches. Lashing rain lent a freewheeling aspect to the memorial, with people taking shelter in the stadium’s wide hallways. Foul weather kept many away, and the stadium that seats about 100,000 people was only two-thirds full.


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Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Mandla Mandela, attends the service. He has been embroiled in court battles, divorce squabbles, alleged bigamy and other scandals for many months.

Matt Dunham/AP

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Graca Machel greets Desmond Tutu, who later gave a blessing to close the service. The retired Anglican archbishop asked audience members to stand up for a moment of silence in an otherwise noisy memorial service. They complied.

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, and South African President Jacob Zuma stand at attention during the service. ‘There is no one like Madiba,’ Mr. Zuma said in his keynote address. ‘He was one of a kind.’

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

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Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s former wife, second from left, and his widow, Graca Machel, right, are seated close to each other on the VIP podium. One of the touching moments at the service came when the two women gave each other a long hug before the ceremonies began.

Matt Dunham/AP

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The handshake that created a stir: U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, whose nations have been mired in Cold War antagonism for more than five decades, lock hands.

Associated Press

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Former prime minister Jean Chrétien walks past former prime minister Brian Mulroney in the box for the Canadian delegation. ‘It is a great occasion of respect because he’s admired by everybody,’ Mr. Chrétien said. Prime Minister Stephen Harper led the delegation. ‘Today was more a celebration than a funeral,” he said. ‘A celebration of a very long life, but a very important life.’


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F.W. de Klerk, centre, and his wife Elita arrive at the service. Tuesday was also the 20th anniversary of the day when Mr. Mandela and Mr. de Klerk, South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, received the Nobel Peace Prize.


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