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December 10th, 2013
05:44 AM ET

World Leaders Gather to Remember Mandela

Tens of thousands of people, nearly 100 heads of state, celebrities and street sweepers are all honoring Nelson Mandela.

In what has been billed as one of the largest gatherings of global leaders in recent history, world leaders from President Barack Obama to France's Francois Hollande gathered alongside street sweepers, actors and religious figures to pay tribute to the revered statesman who died last Thursday.

See former South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar talk about his history and relationship with Nelson Mandela above.

Despite the rain, the atmosphere inside Johannesburg 's FNB stadium was celebratory, with people dancing, blowing "vuvuzela" plastic horns and singing songs from the anti-apartheid struggle.

Many carried banners honoring "Madiba," Mandela's traditional clan name, or his picture.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told CNN's Christiane Amanpour at the Memorial for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg that the leader had a 'great relationship with the Queen. He was the only person who could call her Elizabeth.'

Some had skipped work and queued for hours to secure a seat so that they could pay their respects.

The four-hour service started an hour late as guests continued to stream into the stadium, where Mandela delivered his first major speech after his release from prison. It began with the national anthem.

Watch the Nelson Mandela memorial from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. ET Tuesday on CNN.

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