Nightly News   |  December 06, 2013

Mourners dance in celebration of Mandela’s life

Nelson Mandela’s 10-day journey home to his ancestral homeland has begun, as the crowds grew in front of Mandela’s home. Honored by leaders all over the world, India’s prime minister compared him to Gandhi. NBC’s Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel reports from Johannesburg.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening. in london they chose to wait until the end of the premiere of the t film "long walk to freedom" before breaking the news to the audience that nelson mandela had died. it brought a stunned reaction from the crowd which included prince william and his wife kate. the evening had been hosted by two of nelson mandela 's daughters. while the entire world knew this day was coming and the life of this 95-year-old man has come to an end it marks the passing of a giant of the modern era , a transformative figure who played a unique role in world history . nelson mandela has now started a ten-day journey home to his ancestral homeland as world leaders and citizens alike prepare to say farewell. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel is outside mandela 's home in johannesburg tonight. richard, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. the wall of flowers and tributes in front of the home where mandela died about 24 hours ago is growing. this country is in a ten-day mourning period until mandela is buried in the remote rural village where he was born. they sang for the man who porgave his oppressors and healed a nation. songs of hope, struggle and equality. the same ones they sang when mandela was released from prison, almost a quarter century ago.

>> we are all sad about mandela 's loss.

>> he's been a father figure the to us.

>> reporter: the crowds in front of the house grew all day. there were flowers and notes, many left by children. thank you, we love you, rest in peace. as they danced for the activist who became a prisoner and then a president --

>> so help me god.

>> reporter: perhaps mandela 's greatest legacy is reconciliation and that's represented in this crowd. there are white south africans and black south africans here, both celebrating. at the end of apartheid this country could have seen racial violence. instead it's the most prosperous nation in africa. few people could have accomplished that. amy and catherine said they are only friends because of mandela . their school was deseg rated when apartheid ended.

>> reporter: why was mandela important to you?

>> he united a nation. i can have white friends, black friends, go anywhere i please.

>> he changed the south of south africa .

>> reporter: nelson mandela never called for revenge after decades of oh possessippressioppression. his message of forgiveness made him one of the most respected men in the world. now honored by the queen, the dalai lama, muhammed ali . india's prime minister compared him to gandhi.

>> reporter: martin luther king 's daughter compared him to her father.

>> he took the high road . chose to set an example of true moral, and ethical leadership.

>> reporter: nelson mandela remembers for overcoming hate with with humanity. mandela transformed south africa . but this country still has a long way to go to fulfill his legacy. crime and corruption are rampant. so is poverty and many blacks and whites continue to live in separate communities. brian?