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Tributes pour in for 'hero' Mandela

People across Britain praise life of anti-apartheid leader

World leaders continued to heap praise on anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela over the weekend.

But it was at grass-roots level that true affection for the revolutionary leader was being expressed.

At Premier League football matches fans and players held a minute's applause in Mr Mandela's honour before kick-off on Saturday.

And in pubs and clubs hastily opened books of condolences quickly filling with signatures and messages, including Mr Mandela's own words of struggle for justice, equality, freedom and the eradication of poverty.

One contributor wrote Amandla! - the Xhosa and Zulu word for power - in a condolence book at the socialist Trades Club in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.

Meanwhile at a concert in the town on Saturday night led by folk singer Dick Gaughan, a single candle burned on a table bearing a bunch of flowers throughout the evening.

Manchester City fans poured in their tributes for Mr Mandela on the club's website. The club enjoyed a special link with Mr Mandela after he visited players in the changing rooms during their 2009 South Africa tour.

In communities across South Africa including the township of Soweto - scene of some of the apartheid regime's most brutal repression - people took to the streets to sing and dance expressing a mixture of grief at Mr Mandela's death celebration of his life.

A memorial service takes place there tomorrow.

Mr Mandela, who died on Thursday at the age of 95 after a long illness, suffered 27 years of incarceration - most of it in the notorious Robben Island prison - for refusing to relinquish his struggle against the racist apartheid system.

His struggle inspired an international mobilisation against the South African government which contributed to the destruction of apartheid and the achievement of democracy in South Africa.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, speaking at a memorial service at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London's Trafalgar Square yesterday, said he was one of the world's "rarest leaders."

Britain's MPs are expected to devote today's parliamentary proceedings to paying tribute to Mr Mandela.

A state funeral will be staged for Mr Mandela in South Africa on December 15. From Wednesday he will lie in state in Pretoria.

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