Saturday, 7 December 2013
THE WORLD’S BIGGEST FUNERAL!: Obama, Cameron, Pope, Queen, Other World Leaders For Mandela’s Burial
Nelson Mandela’s will be the world’s biggest funeral.
Indications emerged on Thursday that the United States
president Barack Obama will personally grace the event.
The White House had tweeted that Obama was preparing
to personally attend the funeral.
Although there hasn’t been any other formal
announcement as to when Obama will leave the White
House for South Africa, the expectation is that the
President of the free world will be in attendance in
endorsement of the values that Nelson Mandela lived for.
Other past United States presidents are equally expected to
be in attendance. Of certainty is Bill Clinton who referred
to Mandela as his personal friend.
The British Prime Minister David Cameron is equally
expected to grace the event with his presence. So shall some
members of Parliament. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair
might equally be attending.
The Canadian Prime minister is expected to be in
attendance. All the former Prime Ministers of Canada have
already been invited for the funeral. Mandela was offered
honorary citizenship of that country in 2001. He was the
second in history to be so bestowed.
Many heads of government the world over will be
attending the burial of the man some sections of the media
fondly called the “President of the World”. So shall Kings
and royalties, religious leaders and business leaders,
celebrities and entertainers. Of certainty is Bill Gates and
Every president/prime minister in Africa is expected to be
present at the funeral which will hold December 15.
Mandela, the first democratic president of South Africa,
died Thursday in his Johannesburg home after a protracted
battle with lung infection, throwing the world into a
combination of mourning and gratitude for a life lived
absolutely for humanity.
South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma has already declared a
period of national mourning.
During this period, condolence books will be opened at all
South Africa’s foreign embassies as well as at Mandel’s
former home in Soweto, which is now a popular museum. A
special sitting of parliament may also be held in Cape
Town, South Africa’s legislative capital.
After some days of liaison with foreign governments and
last-minute arrangements, a Ceremony of Remembrance is
expected to be held on Monday in the Soweto football
stadium that previously hosted the soccer World Cup,
known by locals as the Calabash after its resemblance to a
traditional beer-drinking pot.
Africa’s largest stadium, it has a capacity of 95,000. In July
2010, it played host to Mr Mandela’s last public
appearance when he was driven onto the football pitch in a
golf cart for the soccer tournament’s closing ceremony,
accompanied by his wife Graca and resplendent in a bear-
On this occasion, the Calabash is expected to be filled to the
rafters by people eager to play their part in celebrating Mr
Mandela’s life and, in habitual African fashion, singing and
dancing will play a key role in the event. Others will watch
the proceedings from big screens expected to be put up in
Soweto, Pretoria and Cape Town.
Among the names mentioned to compere the event is that
of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, the passionate
cleric who fought apartheid alongside Mr Mandela.
After the ceremony, Mr Mandela’s body will spend three
days lying in state from Dec 11 to 13, either in Pretoria’s
City Hall or the Union Buildings, the seat of government
where Mr Mandela was sworn in as South Africa’s first
black, democratic president in 1994.
One day will be set aside for the vast number of VIPs and
VVIPs who are expected to fly in from around the globe to
steal a last moment alone with the former leader.
Afterwards the doors will be opened to ordinary citizens
who are likely to flock to Pretoria in their thousands to pay
their last respects.
The focus will then shift to Qunu, the tiny village 560 miles
south in the rural Eastern Cape, where Mr Mandela grew
up and his family still has a home. There he will be given a
state funeral on Dec 15.
Mr Mandela’s body will be flown to the local airport where
his coffin is expected to be met by Mr Zuma and a full
military contingent who will accompany it on an 18 mile
procession along a road lined with people to its final
resting place at his home.
The burial of former president Mandela will be in
accordance with the traditions of his Xhosa tribal roots and
a private, family event although a handful of the celebrities
and dignitaries closest to him are thought likely to be
Xhosa tradition usually includes the slaughter of a cow or
sheep, periods of prayer, singing and silence, and the
possessions of the loved one placed inside their grave to
help them in the afterlife. As a lover of good food, whose
personal cook is a celebrity in her own right in South
Africa, Mr Mandela is likely to have stipulated that a final
feast be held in his honour.
Mr Mandela is understood to have chosen his own burial
spot, on a hillside within his family’s compound,
overlooking the green fields where he tended cattle and
played as a boy.
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