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Mandela Message Uplifts Mourners at Anti-Apartheid Veteran's Funeral

Mourners display the programs, as they gather for the funeral service of Albertina Sisulu, in Soweto, South Africa, June 11, 2011

Former South African president Nelson Mandela called anti-apartheid icon Albertina Sisulu "one of the greatest South Africans," as mourners paid their final respects during funeral services in Soweto Saturday.

Mandela's message, read by his wife Graca Machel, triggered a rejoicing outburst of singing and dancing among the crowd of thousands at a huge football stadium.

The former South African leader also lamented that being at the funeral in person would be too painful for him.

Mr. Mandela served as best man when Sisulu married anti-apartheid leader Walter Sisulu.

When South Africa's apartheid government jailed Walter Sisulu and Mr. Mandela in 1964, Albertina Sisulu took up the cause.

Sisulu will be buried near her husband's grave just outside Soweto.

Sisulu, known as Ma Sisulu, died June 2 at her home in Johannesburg. She was 92.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.