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Friends, Family, Mourners Attend Day Of Remembrance For Mandela

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As President Barack Obama and other world dignitaries make their way to South Africa for Nelson Mandela's memorial service, NY1's Dean Meminger is already there, and as he reports, Africans young and old are keeping his legacy alive.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - A day of remembrance was held Sunday at the Nelson Mandela Foundation Centre of Memory.

Attending the ceremony in Johannesburg were friends, family and even a fellow prison mate of Mandela's. They all say his contributions will never be forgotten.

"I've know him for 67 years, and I knew him as a strong man," said Ahmed Kathrada, Mandela's former prison mate. "Then, when I saw a shadow of him, that is something I could never forget. "

The foundation and museum chronicles the difficult journey Mandela traveled. It was a fitting location for people to mourn the loss of their first-elected black president who broke the back of apartheid.

Kimberly, 12, said that she started her own volunteering efforts to follow in Mandela's footsteps.

"There was an opportunity for me to meet him, but it went, it went," she said. "I basically told myself that there's going to be another chance, but it never came."

Just a few blocks away from the foundation, thousands of people continued to gather in front of Nelson Mandela's home in the neighborhood of Houghton Estates. There was plenty of singing and dancing as a salute to the man they call Madiba, which is his tribal name.

"It was a very different country that I grew up in," said one person. "I'm proud to say that I'm now part of the new South Africa."

"It is a very sad day, and we're here to pay our last respects to a man who has changed our lives," said another.

"I thought it was just important for her to know where she comes from, what he's done, what he's given her," said a third. "He's liberated our country. "

Mandela family members, friends and dignitaries entered his estate as a Salvation Army band performed in the middle of a massive gathering of mourners. One elderly woman was brought to tears.

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