President Barack Obama delivered a powerful tribute Tuesday morning at the memorial service for the late South African President Nelson Mandela. The president told the world today that we will never see another man like Nelson Mandela – but called on young people around the globe to “make his life’s work your own”.
Speaking in front of more than 80,000, Obama also called out those who claim to “embrace” Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, “but passionately resist even modest reforms”.
“There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. And there are too many of us who stand on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.”
Obama said he was there to mark a life “unlike any other” and the “last great liberator of the 20th century”.
He drew parallels between Mandela’s fight against the apartheid regime and the civil rights movement in the United States, saying Madiba’s achievements meant it was tempting to remember him as a “serene and smiling icon”.
The full speech is below.