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City Residents Rise Early To Watch Mandela Memorial

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Some New Yorkers rose before the sun to watch Nelson Mandela's memorial service, and a few even ventured out to public viewing places, such as a Brooklyn restaurant that bears the South African leader's tribal name. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.

Elena Cohen got up around 3:30 a.m., and then headed to Madiba, a South African restaurant in Fort Greene, to watch Nelson Mandela's memorial service, broadcast live from Johnannesburg, which is seven hours ahead of our time.

"It felt significant to be here with other people," she said. "It just feels like really an important thing, and to know that people are doing this throughout the world."

Pictures and paintings of Mandela filled the space as a small group gathered at Madiba, despite having to get to work later on. They said that Mandela had a profound impact on their lives.

"I read 'Long Walk to Freedom,' Mandela's autobiography, and I was really inspired," said Elliot Leffler, a patron at the restaurant. "I was really inspired by his life story, by his conviction, by his courage, by his tenacity, by his love, by his openness."

Even though the memorial concluded a little after 9 a.m., some planned to stick around.

The restaurant's bartender, Sharif Byam, said he wouldn't be surprised if a steady flow of patrons continued coming by to remember Madiba for hours or even days, just as when the news spread of the former leader's death.

"There was a lot of people here that just heard the news and just wanted to share an experience or two, that were here all night," Byam said. "People got off work and just didn't care how long they were here."

People here and around the world shared a celebration of Mandela's ideals and philosophy.

"Even though we might look different and come from different cultures, speak different, but now, at some point in time, it's time to bind together and say, 'Let's put that aside,'" said Mark Greenridge, a patron at the restaurant.

Also in New York, a former mayor and the South African Consul General spoke with NY1 about what Mandela's legacy.

"It also goes to show that indeed as we often say as South Africans, that Nelson Mandela did not belong to us alone, but he actually belonged to the world,” said South African Consul General George Monyemangene.

"I think the most interesting thing about him is his total absence of bitterness. Who among us wouldn't walk around angry all the time thinking of how ill-treated he had been?" said former Mayor David Dinkins.

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