TODAY   |  December 11, 2013

Body of Nelson Mandela lies in state

Thousands are lining up for a final glimpse of the former South African president, whose body will lie in state for three days. NBC’s Lester Holt reports.

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

>>> nelson mandela was moved to the south african capitol of petoria overnight where it's lying in state. lester holt is there. lester, good morning to you.

>> reporter: matt, good morning. the gorgeous backdrop behind me known as the union buildings , it's a seat of power here in south africa and sits on petoria 's highest point. you can see the temporary white shelter baring the body of nelson mandela . the public has been coming by for several hours now as this long fairwell continues. in the hot sun thousands line-up for a final glimpse at mandela and to offer their farewells.

>> to just honor his memory. that's important.

>> reporter: the coffin draped in the national flag arrived earlier here at the union buildings , the same place mandela was sworn in as the first black president .

>> never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one or another.

>> reporter: his body to lie in state for three days. family and political dignitaries came ahead of the public to have their last moment with the man they shared with the world for so long. tears flowed freely. a sharp contrast to tuesday's exuberant memorial celebration of mandela 's life. president obama 's speech --

>> too many of us on the sidelines, comfort in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.

>> reporter: resinated powerfully with the audience and the assembled world leaders . and that handshake with cuba's president, a true mandela moment.

>> it's the power of nelson mandela to bring president obama together and raul castro together here in south africa .

>> reporter: the selfie with the danish and british leaders hogging the front pages today. a get together moment mandela himself may have relished. mandela 's body will lie in state for three days. each day his body will be taken to the streets of petoria and matt before i send it back to you, there's a bit of a controversy involving the memorial service yesterday and it's about the sign language interrupter. according to the deaf federation of south africa , he was a fake. he said he was moving his hands but there was no meaning of what he was using his hands for and a deaf member of parliament here said the hand and arm movements communicated absolutely nothing, matt.

>> that's ridiculous. thank you very much. what a time to decide to do something like that.

>> once you look at it you can kind of see.

>> yeah.

>> because he's doing the same things over and over again.

>> over and over .

>> meanwhile, what about this picture making the rounds this morning? a lot of people talking about the selfie that was taken. that is the danish prime minister and david cameron there as well, the prime minister of great britain and president obama taking a selfie at the memorial service . a lot of people are asking the question, was it appropriate? and then we'll get into the second part of it.

>> some people thought it's not appropriate because it was a funeral. on the other hand, it was a memorial service .

>> people singing and dancing around them but then if you widen upright here it does not look like mrs. obama is amused. there's a different angle there but if you go back to the selfie she doesn't look amused and people are saying perhaps she was angry about the behavior.

>> we have all been caught in the moment sometimes. she's at a memorial service . a somber occasion.

>> she could have been thinking about 1,000 other things.

>> but they're going to take it and go with it.

>> no question.

>> it's the selfie that launched a thousand caption contests at