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Delayed Obama cheered at Mandela memorial

Barack Obama (centre) and Michelle Obama attend the memorial service for Nelson Mandela at Soccer City Stadium in Soweto on December 10, 2013
Barack Obama (centre) and Michelle Obama attend the memorial service for Nelson Mandela at Soccer City Stadium in Soweto on December 10, 2013

US President Barack Obama received a huge ovation as he arrived an hour late Tuesday at an emotional memorial service for South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

Obama, scheduled to deliver a personal tribute at the event, was delayed as his motorcade struggled through the rain-soaked route to the Soweto World Cup stadium.

Barack Obama (left) and Michelle Obama (right) with Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, at Waterkloof Air Base, on December 10, 2013 in Centurion, South Africa
Barack Obama (left) and Michelle Obama (right) with Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, at Waterkloof Air Base, on December 10, 2013 in Centurion, South Africa

The memorial event was marred by heavy rainfall which began in the early morning.

Obama and his wife Michelle had arrived at Waterkloof air force base near Pretoria after a 16-hour flight on Air Force One from Washington.

They flew in with former president George W. Bush and his wife Laura, while two other former presidents, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter travelled separately.

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