Calling Nelson Mandela a venerated elder and a great soul, President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said India had no doubt that the world would honour the historic legacy of the anti-apartheid icon, who taught the true meaning of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Representing the government and the people of India, the President, one of the few foreign speakers to give his eulogy at the memorial service for Mandela, said: “We stand by you in your hour of bereavement and we share your sense of loss today.”

Accompanied by a high-level delegation, which included UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, Mr. Mukherjee flew in early in the morning to join South Africa in paying homage to Madiba, as Mandela was affectionately called.

The FNB stadium, where Mandela made his last public appearance a few years ago, reverberated with a standing ovation when Mr. Mukherjee’s name was called out.

"We pray for his eternal peace. Madiba lived a life of sacrifice and privation as he pursued a seemingly impossible goal for his people. The world is richer for his legacy…We, in India, have long admired him and all that he stood for and we will always cherish his friendship and love for our people,” he said.

Describing Mandela as a visionary, the President said: “We have no doubt that the world will honour the historic legacy of Madiba, one of the most influential personalities of our century, who taught the world the true meaning of forgiveness and reconciliation. He steered South Africans onto the path of building a truly Rainbow Nation.”