Nelson Mandela Memorial: A Man Who Changed the World

World leaders gather in Soweto for a memorial service honoring former South African president Nelson Mandela.
3:00 | 12/10/13

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Transcript for Nelson Mandela Memorial: A Man Who Changed the World
I'm Dan -- -- New York with this ABC news digital special report remembering Nelson Mandela the world pausing. And focusing on South Africa remembering the man that was the face of South Africa the anti apartheid movement. And today some 90000 spectators leaders from -- the -- the world both past and present gathered to remember the man. That made such an impact. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Okay. Yeah they're still get -- that I didn't. -- -- -- -- -- A lot of the he didn't see something -- plus plus. This struggle. -- -- -- We can -- -- we consume little world I -- my different but why can't come home. The whole world that I'm not like conflict what -- these men the what a -- but. -- -- -- We will miss him -- May god bless the memory of Nelson Mandela. Pausing and reflecting this morning. I wanna go to our chief national correspondent Byron Pitts who is standing by outside of the stadium and -- it is drizzly on this morning might still. We have seen the celebration of the life of this man that made such an impact. Then if there's a word how -- use for the day it would be jewel. That was the sentiment from people who showed it here today that was the theme of -- -- the speeches that were given. People here -- some six hours before the programs aren't so they could be in place. They were expecting a -- -- -- but that wasn't the case. It's believed that people stayed away perhaps because of the weather but those who were here embraced it. There is a belief in African culture that if it's raining -- the day of a person's funeral. That's a sign that they lived a blessed life. And certainly fully audience here they believe that Nelson men -- lived a blessed life and less than by all all of -- -- works during his life. Without a doubt I would think the highlight of the program -- was president. Barack Obama. When he took the stage when his name was announced. The crowd went crazy sustained applause for some 45 seconds before he was allowed to begin his speech. During the president's speech he often use some of the most famous quotes from Nelson Mandela making that connection -- the audience this great affection for him here Nelson Mandela the first. African president the first black president of South Africa. Of course Barack Obama the first African American -- states. There was also -- song. From the podium also in the crowd people were Cheney. In many ways. People -- -- for a memorial service -- a celebration broke out. And the president had said in fact reflected on his own personal inspiration. And drive and envisioned that he in fact would fall short to the kind of legacy that Nelson Mandela had created in his time that he spent. Shaping South Africa and obviously having international impact. Also UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Also spoke at this morning's ceremony with some very moving words. This event. Symbolize I think the significance of Nelson Mandela -- on his generation. Never before had this many heads of states. Here on stage at the same time the same place as they did today to remember Nelson Mandela. We think about it these are all important people with big egos and they agreed to come and appear but not speak a very short list of but dignitaries spoke including President Obama. It is symbolic I think of the importance the stature in which all. People. Certainly this farther -- around the world health Nelson Mandela he was revered by his countryman certainly and by many people around the world. What was fascinating Byron is as we -- watching each of the planes arrive in South Africa holding dignitaries. As they were making their way off the tarmac as well. There was a very poignant moments where President Obama shook the hand. President Raul Castro and it was a moment that was caught and certainly reacted to this morning but. Very symbolic of the type of energy that was going on inside that stadium. Without question and certainly that will be debated back home I would imagine by both parties for very long time. I think in this environment the sentiment was part of Nelson Mandela's magic was in some ways he went beyond politics he was someone who reached out. Two people who imprisoned him to make South Africa better place so the sense here is at least that -- President Obama made that -- the politics of it in South Africa was to be symbolic of of what Nelson Mandela stood for that if he could stand alongside of men who once imprisoned. In a country where blacks were treated as second class citizens he could move beyond that without bitterness that certainly. To world leaders could at least shaking it. And that was the response from those speakers and from those leaders today what else what other moments stood out -- you. In response to what the react with the crowd reacted to. I think it just -- so many people -- there is it disagree. Is a great deal of concern about security you know you talk about. About about that more later but just think about it this huge base at least 50000 people. Present as best I know there was no reports of violence. No one acted inappropriately. In many ways it felt like a church revival. A huge church house if you were religious songs some American Christian songs a number of native songs songs from the movement. And there was some sadness great sadness because they lost in the but also a great sense of gratitude of what Mandela left this nation -- We we talked to a young woman who was born a young white girl who was born the year that Nelson Mandela became president. And she said the South Africa that I live in. Is so very different from my parents and grandparents that I live in the nations -- big smile on her face I lived in rainbow nation that we are. No matter -- backgrounds we are south Africans first. And that that certainly came across being out in the -- and you see that the groups who arrived the young men and some some old folks dancing in Channing is as they marched in. Great pride there -- a man we saw this beautifully well tailored. Black suit white shirt white black tie soaking what. In this place. Proud of the legacy that Nelson -- -- has left him. And the rest this country the convergence of so much energy and admiration and respect you in a stadium -- and pulled. Almost 95000 people I know that there were some seats that were empty and throughout this morning's ceremony but the same time though. People were able to watch outside of the venue as well correct. Yet that there were a few venues across Johannesburg where people could go and watch -- they chose to. I think the sense says that a number of people stay at home I believe you -- watch the program on local television I would imagine never duplicate that it's cold here it's chilly it's raining. I sort of reminded me of a Chicago Bears football game. That's certainly the hardcore fans we'll show no matter what but some other folks decide to stay home and so I think. The people who were here today in a country where we're Nelson Mandela is beloved. These are the folks who showed up today for whom -- runs very deep. Our Byron -- outside of that momentous. Occasion. In South Africa Byron thank you for that. I want to bring in assistant professor of international affairs at the new school in New York City doctor Sean -- talked little bit about. -- the transformation of South Africa has seen. You were born and raised there you've -- there is well when you see that kind of reflection and that kind of impact. That Nelson Mandela made how does that how does that translate. I'm I'm getting a little goose and Olson whose phones and I was born in South Africa when when and imprisoned about five years and -- of my child who. Use and perhaps -- people in my. And the -- -- -- it was a terrible plays at a time. So when I was about 21 we came out of prison. And as of somebody who benefited from veterans -- and that kind of -- -- held. Created and again I think Obama emphasizes and -- when he was alive emphasize -- too. What his team was not just him but -- was a movement of people you know it wasn't just one man a singular person was considered a great authority or agree to. Way of speaking there was a movement that made this happen so seeing this today and I agree. On Twitter if -- following on Twitter and FaceBook is definitely -- reasonable -- slave at times it's somber and at times seems it's jubilant. If you look at the impact -- South Africa has made it not only obviously within the country itself but obviously to the larger international community as well. Could you ever imagine that having that experience that you had growing up. That a man like Nelson Mandela for the reconciliation. For the forgiveness that he had been so driven by would have that kind of an impact. And it was clear by relate. 1970s. Early 1980s -- -- sense of insights on Africa. On the Nelson Mandela as a personality had taken on you know perfect proportions that he was a world leader people -- named streets afternoon confirmed -- on and you know schools in New York I think there's a school -- -- an industrialist and far right end of the month again. So yeah he's he was already a world leader about a time -- came out of prison. 11 understood he's placing these treatment I think it's over time and -- hindsight you realize. There this African movement was unique movement. -- -- at the world behind. You know this atrocity that happens with the majority of the people there. -- Nelson Mandela became sort of figurehead of movement I think that's and that that was a deliberate strategy on the part of the NC and it seemed to worked. Oven and and I think it also partly some of his own qualities help. And so the result is what we see today speaking of some of those. Qualities how strongly hard to think died. The that the the guidelines and the direction of the government of South Africa and now. -- dishonest and I think vessel that the ANC people forget the agency's -- swollen it is not as one person so Jacob Zuma -- -- -- People who watched. The live -- May have noticed that. Half the -- -- we -- him. That people weren't listening or that they -- leaving but on the other hand is also others who understand what that's me that's a national movement. Rather than to one person so it's a movement that had lasted. You know hundred he has already. It it's. Clearly I think in this in the next election which is coming up next -- week we will see that there are differences within -- party -- -- -- -- unhappy with the direction of the ANC. I think there's going to be is going to be interesting to see -- -- it's -- it's it's hard to predict. -- but I get a sense that there's going to be a fight. Over the what is the agency's. I think would Nelson Mandela gone this will be the first election since the end of apartheid that we won't have -- competing for the insists the last of its and they still trotted him out. But this will be the first in this we won't see -- And war. However having studied Nelson Mandela and his work so closely as which you have. And you see the impact that he is made on other world leaders and as we've just -- that moment there -- the president shaking hands with pro Castro Cuba. A moment that was caught right in time at this particular ceremony. Do you perceive the legacy of Nelson Mandela having that kind of an impact 203040. Years from now. An investment once again a functional we'll pragmatism if you are president of I think he was very principled. And I think people in my -- -- -- When he needed to use you know violence to. Come to -- ends at the same time when you realize that violence was not the way. To get some mafia to the next level to move towards a democracy and to bring on board blacks whites on Africans he moved on and I think it's that. That's that that's that's the VV -- for the people of Miami and I think that's what people can see you again. I want to go back outside to outside the stadium where ABC's outsmart part is standing by in Alex -- the reaction from the crowds there. It tremendously strong I imagine. Good morning -- absolutely I mean the tone of this. Whole thing was set right after the news of Nelson Mandela's death broke throngs masses of south Africans. Descended on his house and they weren't crying they were singing they were dancing that really set the tone of celebration that we've seen. Spread throughout the entire country over the course. Of the last few days of course there have been two years that I remember relatives mr. Mandela's house the couple days ago and spoke. To two girls eighteen years old one black one white. And they were saying that only because of this man could they be friends hasn't really think that he brought you together there's absolutely did you brought the entire country together. We've seen this massive celebration of his spirit. Exploded over the over the last few days. And that really set the tone for today as well well before the ceremony started this morning there were groups of people going all around this stadium singing dancing. Really celebrating his life and it went well beyond south Africans alone I sat next to a Ugandan man on the train here at 5 o'clock in the morning -- that I wouldn't miss this this is history. This is the kind of history you tell your children about so as we know. This man went well beyond South Africa well beyond Africa -- the entire world as President Obama expressed today. What are the things that struck me as we were watching the ceremony this morning and doctor Jacobs had commented on. Is that the power of Nelson Mandela had transcend beyond any kind of border any kind of a country division but as you just mentioned right there Alex it was also a generational bridge as well. Absolutely and now South Africa -- in in something of a crisis trying to figure out. Who inherits this mental if you look at some of the great south African political families -- -- -- the combos the Mandela's. Not too many of that second and third generation has actually gone into politics and and there's a lot of dis enchantment as you're just mentioning. Win the ANC these days -- specifically president Jacob Zuma and as we saw on this ceremony today lots of -- -- -- started talking and there was essentially. A mass exodus. This stadium emptied out so. Now South Africa has to figure out. Where it's gonna go who's -- inherit dismantle if they can keep up. These themes this spirit that Mandela set starting so long ago. Alex let me ask you this than what was the most poignant moment that you heard from the reaction from those that were watching outside. Well it was really be the most poignant moment for me was well before the ceremony started when -- as I was mentioning these crowds really set the tone for the day. Jubilation singing dancing and we knew from that moment on that this was going to be more a celebration of this man's life. -- a memorial of course as an American it was very impressive to see the reaction that President Obama got not just when he arrived at the shortly after the ceremony started. But during his speech you know President Obama thanking. The south African nation for giving. -- greatest son to the world talking about what he meant specifically for South Africa. For the world and for him in particular that really resonated. With the audience I think those were. Two of the most powerful moments but also speaking with people on an individual basis talking about how they had to come down here today despite his driving rain. Tens of thousands of people turned out I think that really goes to show how much love there is for Mandela. It was also on this day back in 1992. Dads Nelson Mandela had shared the Nobel Peace Prize with FW -- quirk. -- had gone to Oslo Norway. Alex since it is that discussed given the fact that at the time win that award was presented that it was. I shared it was -- -- as shared acknowledgment. Well absolutely and it goes to what Byron was talking about this was a man who could forgive he was humble. He came out of prison and said I'm not gonna. Go after the people who put me there that people who prosecuted me -- Void -- -- you wanted to bring them into the fold. So of course that you know that was a momentous moment to see those. Two men you know one who represented really the apartheid era. And the one that had been fighting so strongly against it come together and accept that award of course that was actually a pivotal moment and it's something -- sold. -- -- Here are ABC's mark court outside of the stadium there Alex thank you for that and of course we certainly appreciate. The time -- insight from doctor Jacobs as well and Byron Pitts also in South Africa. But at the end of this very remarkable day one last tribute this from the poet Maya Angelou given on behalf of the American people. And released by the State Department here is my Angelou -- home for Nelson Mandela. His day is done. He's staying he's down. Instead. The news came on the -- and little wind reluctant to carry its spirit. Nelson Mandela's day is down. Then music's big dinner and still -- who -- -- Stennis in the United States and suddenly. Our world became somewhere and I -- -- we're live from. His state is down and ECUs. South African -- and standing speechless. At this slamming then. -- little. Two weeks notre avenue returns. -- periods reach out to you learn to zoom. Close senate bill. We think -- view and good son of Africa. You're trying to. You know one little and of the learn. We send our souls to use as -- since that time the UNDP. Armed with a mere student. Facing down in 1909. -- amendments general GD Nemo emerging trend on Sunday. Although the -- and to feed -- -- embrace and a client. Sign. That this and -- atmosphere. Racist. Unjustly. Imprisoned. In the bloody mountains. Of south African dungeons. With the Manson night. -- -- His answer strength in men and women around the world. In the Alamo in San Antonio Texas. -- the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. In she -- those who knew. In New Orleans Mardi Gras. In New York city's -- square. We months and still hope but crashed into spraying. Do the prisons -- -- This stupendous night in tanks. His gargantuan little video and actually. He had not been crippled by -- Novelist his passion for the rights of human beings and ammunitions. Paid 27 years of imprisonment. Even here in America. -- -- the smooth refreshing breeze. Lynn Nelson Mandela took the seat of a presidency. In his country. Chris harmony. He was not even amount to -- We were immunized back tears of crash. As Lisa Nelson Mandela's. From a -- times in thanked -- -- -- -- him. To lunch and trim the front rooms and his inauguration. We saw him accepts the world's award and in no way with the grace and ready to. Of this aluminum and ancient -- bullets. And the confidence. Of African -- From -- -- royals two. No sun out massed its senses. Not on the rise again and bring them down and he is Mandela's day is. Yet -- His inherent violence that opened the gates minor. For reconciliation. And we will respond generously. To the -- Max. And my -- Asians and Hispanics. The book who live previously. On the fluent -- analysts. He has also fast I understand. We will not. With food for achievements. Even from those who do not dance. Nelson Mandela's day is done. We confesses. In tearful -- -- -- we sniffed out only to say thank you. Thank you I didn't. Thank you and dangerous. Country to -- this man. We will not forget you we will not -- sunny. We will remember and defense and they tune in the months. And -- to talk -- us. And -- two minutes. Words for the man that forever change the world. Stay with ABC news digital for more live coverage from South Africa. As Nelson Mandela. Is laid to rest. For now. I'm -- -- -- New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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