JOHANNESBURG (QHA) -

Tens of thousands of South Africans have joined dozens of world leaders for the national memorial service for former President Nelson Mandela, BBC reports.

The service is being held in front of a vociferous crowd in the FNB stadium in Johannesburg.

The memorial service is one of the biggest gatherings of international dignitaries in recent years.

US President Barack Obama said Mr Mandela was a "giant of history", adding: "The world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us".

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said there was "sorrow for a mighty loss and celebration of a mighty life".

He said: "South Africa has lost a hero, it has lost a father... He was one of our greatest teachers. He taught by example. He sacrificed so much and was willing to give up all he had for freedom and democracy."

As reported, the democracy icon, former South African president died, aged 95. 

QHA