Memorial service for Nelson Mandela
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon and Prime Minister Erna Solberg represented Norway at the memorial service for Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela in Johannesburg today. Some 80 000 people, including dozens of heads of state and government, gathered to pay tribute to Mandela at the ceremony.
The memorial service was held at the football stadium where Nelson Mandela made his last public appearance during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, at which time he was honoured with prayers, speeches and songs.
South Africas first black president died at the age of 95 on 5 December 2013.
President Mandela became a unifying symbol of freedom, equality and the struggle against the apartheid regime in South Africa.
Upon his release in 1990 after 27 years in prison, Mr Mandela became the main proponent of a policy focused on peace and reconciliation. In 1993 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts together with the President of South Africa at the time, Frederik Willem de Klerk.
In 1994, Nelson Mandela became the first president to be elected in fully democratic elections in which all of South Africas citizens could take part. He made a state visit to Norway in 1999. There are strong ties between Norway and South Africa, not least due to Norways support of the African National Congress (ANC) in the fight against apartheid.
Upon the passing of Nelson Mandela, His Majesty King Harald stated:
"I was fortunate to have met President Mandela several times. He has served as a role model for me. I have admired his leadership, courage and wisdom. In a situation characterised by violence and vengefulness, President Mandela succeeded in bringing out the best in both himself and his fellow citizens. He has shown the world that it is possible to choose reconciliation over revenge, to choose that which uplifts over that which destroys."
Nelson Mandela will be buried in his home village of Qunu on Sunday, 15 December.