FIVE DAYS AFTER his death, South Africa has begun the official ceremonial mourning of its great unifier.
An estimated 80,000 people will attend a memorial service for Nelson Mandela at a stadium in Johannesburg today, following a national day of prayer held throughout the country yesterday.
South Africa is holding a 10-day mourning period in recognition of the importance of Mandela’s role in leading the country through the struggle against apartheid.
Here’s what’s happening this week :
Members of the public and heads of state from around the world will attend the official memorial service at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg today. An estimated 80,000 people will attend the service, which begins at 11am and ends at 3pm (1pm-5pm GMT).
Mandela’s grandchildren will read a tribute to him, followed by comments from dignitaries including US president Barack Obama, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and Cuban president Raúl Castro.
Smaller memorial services will be held across the country to ensure that members of the public will have an opportunity to attend.
Wednesday 11 December – Friday 13 December
A picture of Mandela at a shopping centre in Rosebank, a district of Johannesburg, on Monday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
The former president’s body will lie in state at the seat of government in the Union Buildings in Pretoria. His remains will be brought from a nearby hospital to the building every morning at 7am which the government has said will be an opportunity for mourners to form a guard of honour along the route.
Mandela’s family and senior politicians and dignitaries will view the body from 10am on Wednesday, with members of the public filing past from 12 noon until 5.30pm. On Thursday and Friday the casket will be on view from 8am until 5.30pm.
Mourners will be shuttled to the building and back from two nearby sites, with the government warning that other other access will be possible.
Mourners have been told that mobile phones must be out of sight as they file past the body.
Saturday 14 December
Morners from Nigeria sing outside the home of Mandela in Johannesburg on Monday (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Mandela’s remains will be transported to the town of Qunu, where he was raised, from the Waterkloof air force base in Pretoria, where the ruling African National Congress which he once led will bid farewell to Madiba.
Mandela’s coffin, which will be draped in the South African flag, will be greeted at the Eastern Cape by a military guard of honour and moved into a hearse.
A procession will take place to Qunu, where Mandela’s Thembu clan will conduct a traditional ceremony at Mandela’s family home.
Sunday 15 December
Mandela will be laid to rest in a state funeral at Qunu, concluding the 10-day State funeral period. The burial will be broadcast live on television and viewing points will be erected around the country to allow as many people as possible to follow the interment.
Additional reporting by AFP
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