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Tens of thousands of South Africans, dozens of presidents and prime ministers, celebrities and street sweepers all headed to the same place: a stadium in Johannesburg to honor Nelson Mandela at a memorial service on Tuesday.


Despite the rain, crowds clapped, sang and danced as they began arriving at the FNB stadium. Many waved banners honoring the revered statesman or carried his picture.

Dignitaries from around the world arrived in the city to pay tribute, including President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron as well as Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and South African President Jacob Zuma were among the first to arrive at the stadium.

The world of entertainment also was well represented with South African actress Charlize Theron and U2′s Bono in attendance.

With 91 heads of state attending, security was tight.

Authorities have been stepping up surveillance as presidents of six nations prepare to pay tribute to the late anti-apartheid leader in a four-hour service that will likely bring much of South Africa to a stop.

Working off plans developed for years in secret, the South African government is using an elite military task force, sniper teams and canine teams to help secure the stadium, CNN’s Arwa Damon reported Monday. In addition, helicopters and military jets frequently fly overhead.

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