News

Obama, Castro shake hands; world says farewell to Mandela

Obama, Castro shake hands; world says farewell to Mandela

MANDELA REMEMBERED: U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the crowd during a memorial service for Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa Dec. 10. Photo: Reuters

By Stella Mapenzauswa and David Dolan

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama shook the hand of Cuban President Raul Castro at a memorial for Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, a rare gesture between the leaders of two nations at loggerheads for more than half a century.

With Mandela’s message of reconciliation hanging over the ceremony, Castro smiled as Obama shook his hand on the way to the podium to make a rousing speech in memory of the former South African president, one of the world’s greatest peacemakers, who died on Thursday aged 95.

Tens of thousands of singing and dancing mourners braved hours of torrential rain at Johannesburg’s Soccer City as 90-odd world dignitaries filed into the stadium.

The crowd emitted a huge roar as Obama took his seat, in marked contrast to the boos that greeted South African President Jacob Zuma, a scandal-plagued leader whose weaknesses have been cast into sharp relief by Mandela’s death.

EXTRA: Nelson Mandela dead at 95 | South Carolina sheriff refuses to lower flag for Mandela

Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe also received wide applause.

Obama chided leaders who were quick to claim solidarity with Mandela’s struggle with oppression and injustice, but did not allow freedom in their own countries.

“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,” he said.

EXTRA: South Africans mourn Mandela with praise, prayer

“There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people,” he said.

Relations between Cuba and the United States have been frozen since soon after Cuba’s 1959 revolution led by Raul’s brother Fidel Castro, and Washington has maintained economic sanctions on the communist-ruled island for more than half a century.

Recent Headlines

in Music

Concert-goes hospitalized during Keith Urban show

Keith Urban arrives at the 56th annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, in Los Angeles.

Things got a bit crazy at Keith Urban's Massachusetts show on Saturday night.

in Music

The Beatles wanted to film ‘Lord of the Rings’

FILE- This is a 1967 handout image from Parlophone of The British group, The Beatles,. From left, are: Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney; and George Harrison. The woman who as a child was the basis for the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is gravely ill. It was thought by many at the time that the psychedelic song from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band was a paean to LSD because of the initials in the title, but it was actually based on a drawing that John Lennon's young son Julian brought home from school. He told his father the drawing was of Lucy in the sky with diamonds. Lucy Vodden, now living in Surrey just outside of London _ drifted apart after schoolyard days, but they have gotten back in touch as Lennon has tried to help Vodden cope with Lupus, a life-threatening disease.

Peter Jackson reveals John Lennon could have played Gollum in a Stanley Kubrick directed LOTR adaptation.

in Entertainment

Fans support campaign to keep Sean Bean alive in new show

British actor Sean Bean arrives for a special UK screening of Cleanskin, at the Mayfair Hotel in central London, Monday, March 5, 2012.

The "Game of Thrones" actor has died more than 20 times in his career, and fans want it to stop.