Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Search of Air Algerie crash site continues

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Sarkozy, Hollande and the scooter wars

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Confusion online over Air Algérie flight

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

  • French PM calls for calm ahead of banned Gaza protest

    Read more

  • Limited 12-hour humanitarian truce takes effect in Gaza

    Read more

  • US evacuates embassy in Libya amid militia clashes

    Read more

  • Kerry in Paris for new round of Gaza ceasefire talks

    Read more

  • Video: 'Lack of security' at MH17 crash site, FRANCE 24 reports

    Read more

  • In pictures: Devastation, debris at Air Algérie crash site

    Read more

  • Washington Post reporter and his wife arrested in Iran

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Lithuania’s Navardauskas wins 19th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Fans electrify the mood as Tour de France crosses the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • Halal tourism on the rise

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

Africa

World leaders gather for Mandela memorial

© Photo: AFP

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-10

About 100 world leaders including US President Barack Obama and Cuba's Raul Castro will gather in Johannesburg on Tuesday to eulogise Nelson Mandela at a large memorial service in the Soweto football stadium where he made his last public appearance.

Huge crowds of grieving South Africans will converge on Soweto's World Cup stadium on Tuesday, joining foreign presidents, priests, queens and sheikhs at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela.

Close to 100 world leaders were among 85,000 people expected to fill the FNB stadium in Soweto – the crucible of Mandela's anti-apartheid struggle – to bid farewell to the unifying global icon.

Five hours before the memorial began, large crowds had already gathered in a light drizzle, hoping for one of the first-comer tickets.

Wrapped in South African flags or yellow-green  shawls printed with the slogan "Mandela Forever", they danced and jogged towards the stadium entrance, some singing in Zulu: "Mandela is not sleeping, just kneeling."

Thousands more were boarding free trains from central Johannesurg.

News of Mandela's death at his home in Johannesburg on Thursday resonated around the world, triggering a wave of affection and praise from political and religious leaders, some of whom agree on little else.

Eclectic mix of world leaders

The presidents of the United States and Cuba are among those who will share the memorial stage, pausing rivalries that date back to the Cold War to pay tribute as millions around the world look on.

The event is part of an extended state funeral that will culminate in the prisoner-turned-president's burial on Sunday in the rural village of Qunu where he spent his early childhood.

About 11,000 soldiers have been deployed as part of a massive security operation to ensure order as South Africans unite in a mass celebration of Mandela's life ahead of the more formal lying-in-state.

The Indian and Brazilian presidents will deliver eulogies on Tuesday, reflecting the extraordinary global reach, popularity and influence of one of the 20th century's towering political figures.

Four of Mandela's grandchildren will speak on behalf of his family. Three other Johannesburg stadiums will have giant screens allowing 120,000  other South Africans to watch the event.

'A magician'

While Mandela had been out of public life for more than a decade, South Africans looked to his moral authority as a comforting constant in a time of uncertain social and economic change.

On the eve of the memorial, Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu described Mandela as a "magician" who conjured a united nation from a country teetering on the brink of civil war.

"Everybody was saying we would go up in flames," he said. "He really was like a magician with a magic wand, turning us into this glorious, multi-coloured rainbow people."

A single candle was lit on Monday in Mandela's tiny prison cell on Robben Island, where he spent the harshest of his 27 years in apartheid jails before emerging to lead his country into a multi-racial democracy.

On Monday, his eldest daughter Makaziwe Mandela told how her father spent a "wonderful" week surrounded by family before he died.

"The children were there, the grandchildren were there, [his wife] Graca was there, so we are always around him, even at the last moment," she told the BBC.

Funeral cortege

Before the burial in Qunu, Mandela's body will lie in state for three days from Wednesday in the amphitheatre of the Union Buildings in Pretoria where he was sworn in as president in 1994.

Each morning, his coffin will be borne through the streets of the capital in a funeral cortege, to give as many people as possible the chance to pay their final respects.

As well as Obama and three previous occupants of the White House, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President François Hollande and Afghan President Hamid Karzai will attend Tuesday's ceremony.

Parliament met for a special tribute session on Monday, with MPs carrying single red roses as they entered the assembly building that was flanked by giant portraits of Mandela in tribal dress and as an elder statesman.

Opposition leader Helen Zille said every politician had a duty to carry forward Mandela's ideals of justice and equality for all.

"He has handed the baton to us and we dare not drop it," Zille said.

Africa will be represented at the funeral by Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan and more than a dozen other heads of state and government.

US talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, British billionaire Richard Branson and Irish singer-activist Bono were expected to be among the celebrities in attendance.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2013-12-10

  • SOUTH AFRICA

    IN PICTURES: Praying for Mandela in Soweto

    Read more

  • SOUTH AFRICA

    South Africa prepares for Nelson Mandela’s funeral

    Read more

  • SOUTH AFRICA

    Mandela “gave us courage”, says Nobel laureate Gordimer

    Read more

COMMENT(S)