Nightly News   |  December 10, 2013

A snapshot of life in Soweto

NBC’s Brian Williams visits Soweto, witnessing gamut of human experience -- and the visible changes that have occurred in the past two decades.

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

>>> finally, from south africa here tonight, we took a moment this afternoon, while the memorial was still going on but winding down to walk around soweto, just as a way of gauging life in this part of the country now, how it changed and where it might be headed, especially in light of the loss of the man they consider a hero. this is the south africa nelson mandela identified with. and they proudly claim him as one of their own.

>> mr. mandela was an icon, we'll follow his foot step.

>> for all he taught me and all i will teach my children, forever.

>> reporter: on a rainy afternoon walking around soweto, you can witness the gamut of human experience, thank you very much. after 20 years of coming here, there were visible changes on this trip. in this neighborhood, a slight uptick in the standard of living and happiness and empowerment. but it is hard to see anything else in the middle of that old, familiar grinding poverty.

>> i want to thank him for giving this to us.

>> reporter: because death is viewed as a transition, because even today's rain is seen as a blessing for mandela's passage, it is perfectly consistent that people in mourning are also happy and celebrating.

>> i'll miss him.

>> are you proud that the world has come here today to say good-bye to him?

>> i am very proud.

>> it is important for us, in 27 years in prison, i think we owe him.

>> reporter: the man i first met 20 years ago as the newly elected president back when we were both much younger is being called their george washington , their gandhi, their lincoln, their mother teresa , their dr. king and fdr all rolled into one. nelson mandela wanted a country where babies were born into freedom and equality. of the two, it is equality that for so many remains a long walk. which brings us to tonight, after a day of heavy rain , tonight's fog has blotted out the union buildings behind us. but beginning in a new hours, this is where nelson mandela will come to lie in state, as the long farewell continues up until the burial next sunday. that is