Cumberland Times-News

December 10, 2013

Obama hails Mandela as ‘last great liberator’

Elaine Blaisdell
Associated Press

— JOHANNESBURG (AP) —

Amid cheers and song for the

prisoner who became peacemaker,

President Barack

Obama energized tens of thousands

of spectators and nearly

100 visiting heads of state

Tuesday with a plea for the

world to emulate Nelson Mandela,

“the last great liberator of

the 20th century.”

Obama’s eulogy was the

rhetorical highlight of a memorial

service in which South

Africans celebrated Mandela’s

life 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,where they sang anti-apartheid

anthems from the 1970s and

1980s.

Foul weather kept many

away, and the 95,000-capacity

stadium was only two-thirds

full.

Obama implored people to

embrace Mandela’s universal

message of peace and justice,

comparing the South African

leader to Mahatma Gandhi,

Martin Luther King Jr. and

Abraham Lincoln. Mandela

spent 27 years in prison under a

racist regime, and promoted

forgiveness and reconciliation

when he was finally freed.

Obama hailed Mandela, who

died Thursday at 95, as the

unlikely leader of a movement

that gave “potent voice to the

claims of the oppressed and the

moral necessity of racial justice.”