Ellen, Sawyer Among First To View Mandela’s Body…As Burial Takes Place In Qunu
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf says the aura of the State Memorial Service and the viewing of the mortal remains of global icon and campaigner of world peace and human rights, Nelson Mandela, should inspire world leaders and peoples of all nations to follow his exemplary deeds in the legacy he now leaves. The Liberian leader said she was honored to have been a part of the official events leading to the final burial of Mr. Mandela.
According to a dispatch from South Africa, President Johnson Sirleaf and eminent Liberian statesman, Dr. Amos Sawyer, were among leaders from around the world invited to view the body of the former President of South Africa, who passed away on December 5, in his 95th year.
The remains of Madiba, as he is widely known, is lying-in-state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, in the newly named Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre, for a three-day period of public viewing which began yesterday.
The Liberian leader was among the first group of world leaders joining President Jacob Zuma and the family of the late Mandela to view his body and pay their last respects to the fallen anti-apartheid freedom fighter and South Africa’s first democratically elected President.
For his part, former Interim President, Dr. Sawyer, described the two-day official burial ceremonies of Mr. Mandela as events of historic proportions. He said President Mandela transcended most leaders of not just today, but those of many past centuries. He said it was a privilege to have been a part of the home-going events organized by the South African Government and people.
Dr. Sawyer said the rich history of the African National Congress (ANC) and the role of Mr. Mandela, as recounted by South African President Zuma during the official reception for world leaders, was one he had hoped Liberian children could get to hear so as to emulate.
The State Funeral for Mr. Mandela will take place on Sunday, December 15, at his ancestral village of Qunu, Eastern Cape – a seven-hour drive from Pretoria – to which the 80 to 100 Heads of State present at the first two ceremonies are not obliged to attend as the village does not have the necessary facilities to accommodate everyone and their entourage.