The South African President, Jacob Zuma, has announced that the official memorial service for the country’s fallen former President, Nelson Mandela, will take place today at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. On Sunday a “National Day of Prayer and Reflection” was held.
Zuma said from the 11th to the 13th of December the remains of Madiba will lie in state in Pretoria, where he served as the first President of this young democracy. The South African leader noted that during these days official memorial services will also be held in all provinces and regions.
According to him, the funeral of Nelson Mandela will be held on Sunday, Dec. 15, in the Eastern Cape Province of Qunu.
“We should all work together to organize the most befitting funeral for this outstanding son of our country,” Zuma said on Friday, Dec. 6. Zuma confirmed that Mandela will be accorded a state funeral.
Qunu is where Mandela grew up and the ceremony will be held “under a large tent nestled in the hills where Mandela ran and played as a child,” according to CNN.
The revered South African statesman, who spent 27 years in prison for treason before becoming the apartheid-torn country’s first black President in 1994, died on Thursday, Dec. 5, at his home after being in failing health for some time.
In announcing the death of Mr. Mandela, President zuma said, “Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss,” Zuma said on Thursday. “Our thoughts are with the South African people who today mourn the loss of the one person who, more than any other, came to embody their sense of a common nationhood. Our thoughts are with the millions of people across the world who embraced Madiba as their own, and who saw his cause as their cause.”
Mandela’s last formal public appearance was during the 2010 World Cup, when his country played host. He had most recently been hospitalized in Pretoria in June for a recurring lung infection, his fifth time in two years.
Meanwhile, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf yesterday evening departed the country for Johannesburg, to join Kings, Queens, Presidents, Heads of State and Government, and millions of sympathizers for the State Memorial Service of the first black and former President of South Africa and global icon, Nelson Mandela, who passed away on December 5th, in his 95th year.
President Mandela, who led the struggle against South Africa’s brutal apartheid regime, was jailed for 27 years, and emerged from prison to become South Africa’s first democratically elected President in 1994, stepping down after serving a single term.
According to an Executive Mansion release, on Tuesday, December 10, President Sirleaf will attend the State Memorial Service of the late former President, Nelson Mandela, at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, to which Kings, Queens, Presidents and Heads of State are invited.
On Wednesday, December 11, there will be the Lying-in-State for the official viewing of the mortal remains of the late Madiba, at the Union Buildings, in the capital, Pretoria.
The State Funeral will take place on Sunday, December 15, at Madiba’s ancestral village of Qunu, Eastern Cape – a 14-hour drive from Pretoria – to which the 80 to 100 Heads of State expected are not obliged to attend as the village does not have the necessary facilities to accommodate everyone and their entourage.
Because of their many years of promoting human rights and democracy, both Dr. Amos Sawyer, Chairman of the Governance Commission, and Dr. Togba Nah-Tipoteh, a prominent Liberian politician, have been invited to play roles in commemorating the homegoing of the former South African President. Dr. Sawyer will accompany the President to South Africa, while Dr. Tipoteh will work, on the ground, with South Africa’s Ambassador to Liberia, H.E. Masilo Esau Mabeta, to organize activities commemorating Mandela’s life. Dr. Tipoteh had accompanied the President to South Africa for Madiba’s 90th birthday celebration. Also on hand will be Liberia’s Ambassador in South Africa, Cllr. Lois Brutus.
President Sirleaf returns home on Friday, December 13. While she is away, the Minister of Finance, Mr. Amara Konneh, will chair the Cabinet in consultation with Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, Sr.