Muscat: Following a minute of silence, the sweet voices of a multi-racial South African choir in Oman sang out in five languages South Africa's national anthem, reflecting the unity of the "Rainbow Nation," as over 200 people gathered for a memorial event for Nelson Mandela.
Members of the Royal family, ambassadors and other dignitaries, South Africans, Omanis and other residents attended the memorial ceremony on Wednesday.
Representatives from the Omani, international, African, and South African communities paid tributes to the man repeatedly referred to as the "super-statesman of our century" by the master of ceremonies, Ali Ahmed Saleh, Ambassador of Tanzania to the Sultanate.
"It is with heavy hearts that we gather here today not only to mourn our loss, but also to celebrate his life. He was a gift to the humanity," said Major General Chris Pepani, Ambassador of South Africa to the Sultanate.
Dr Waheed Al Kharusi, representing the Omani civil society, remembered Mandela as a man who epitomised peace and justice, while Mitzi Gurgel Valente da Costa, Ambassador of Brazil to the Sultanate, reflected on Mandela's ability to unite people and seek reconciliation rather than vengeance. Angelo Stevens, president of the Southern African Group Oman, who grew up fighting against apartheid, said Mandela gave every South African a better future.
Dr Ben Nnamdi Emenyeonu, a Nigerian resident of Oman, spoke on behalf of the greater African community. He spoke of Mandela's journey from being a tribal prince to a prisoner to the president and said that in the darkest years of his life, he still shone.
"Only when it is too dark can you see a shining star. We console the people of South Africa. Do not grieve, because death has not diminished Mandela," he said.
For citizens of South Africa, it was important to have the chance to say goodbye to Mandela here in Muscat and many came to the memorial early to sign the book of condolences and comfort each other.