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Celebrating one of his personal heroes, President Barack Obama praised Nelson Mandela as the last great liberator of the 20th century, urging the world to carry on his legacy by fighting inequality, poverty and discrimination.

At a memorial service in Johannesburg, Obama compared the former South African President to Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln. He said Mandela had earned his place in history through struggle, shrewdness, persistence and faith.

President Obama pays his respect to former South African President Nelson Mandela's widow Graca Machel after his speech at the memorial service.

KAI PFAFFENBACH/REUTERS

President Obama pays his respect to former South African President Nelson Mandela’s widow Graca Machel after his speech at the memorial service.

“For nothing he achieved was inevitable,” Obama said. “In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness, persistence and faith. He tells us what’s possible not just in the pages of dusty history books, but in our own lives as well.”

Late South African President Nelson Mandela's ex-wife Winnie (l.) and wife Graca Machael (r.) attend the official memorial service for Mandela.

KAI PFAFFENBACH/REUTERS

Late South African President Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie (l.) and wife Graca Machael (r.) attend the official memorial service for Mandela.

In a rain-soaked stadium where world leaders gathered to honor the anti-apartheid leader, Obama traced the influence that Mandela’s story has had on his own life, disclosing that he asks himself how well he’s applied Mandela’s lessons to himself as a man and as president.

President Obama speaks during a memorial service for Nelson Mandela at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

President Obama speaks during a memorial service for Nelson Mandela at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa.

He said in the U.S., South Africa and around the world, people must not allow progress that’s been made to cloud the fact that more work must be done.

“We, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality,” Obama said, referring to Mandela by his traditional clan name.

The official program for former South African President Nelson Mandela's funeral on Tuesday.

The official program for former South African President Nelson Mandela’s funeral on Tuesday.

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article courtesy of nydailynews.com

Nelson Mandela Memorial Service: Obama Praises ‘Madiba’  was originally published on praisecleveland.com