South Africa gears up for funeral of the century

Johannesburg, South Africa (PANA) - South Africa is gearing for the biggest moment since Nelson Mandela, under the full glare of the international spotlight, in 1994 took the oath of office at the Union Buildings to become the first democratically-elected President and a moral beacon for all mankind.

Nearly 20 years later, the fallen giant prepares to return to the Union Buildings - this time in a coffin with his task complete and this former land of Apartheid respected across the globe.

The mourning begins Tuesday with the official memorial service at the FNB Stadium in Soweto – the venue for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the place where Mandela made his last public appearance.

An estimated 100 world leaders are expected to attend, and the planes bearing them have continued to land at Johannesburg’s OR Thambo International Airport and Lanseria Airport as well as Pretoria’s Waterkloof Airforce Base.  

"The world literally is coming to South Africa," said the government's head of public diplomacy, Clayson Monyela in a media briefing on Monday.  

Host President Jacob Zuma will make the keynote address in front of a crowd of 80,000 and a global television audience of hundreds of millions.

Other speakers will include US President Barack Obama, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Four of Mandela's grandchildren will speak for his family.

The week-long funeral programme will round off on Sunday when Mandela will be buried at his family home in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape.

Ahead of the burial, Mandela's body will lie in state for three days from Wednesday at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
-0- PANA CU/SEG 10Dec2013

10 december 2013 07:43:37

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