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60 World Leaders In Johannesburg For Mandela's Funeral

Jonathan, 59 world leaders for Mandela’s funeralPresident Goodluck Jonathan and United States President Barack Obama are set for Johannesburg 
to attend tomorrow’s funeral service for the late South African President Nelson Mandela. They are among 60 world leaders who have confirmed their attendance at the week-long funeral.

To attend the events are Obama, along with three former American presidents, Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff, French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane confirmed yesterday the high profile guests’ list.

There has been “unprecedented interest” to attend the statesman’s funeral, Nkoana-Mashabane told a news conference in Johannesburg.

Many of the leaders, including Jonathan and Obama, will attend a memorial service tomorrow at the Soccer City stadium, where Mandela made his last major public appearance during the 2010 World Cup.

A smaller group would travel to the Nobel peace laureate’s rural childhood village Qunu for his funeral service and burial on Sunday.

Scores of dignitaries are also expected to attend, including United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Kofi Annan, Martti Ahtisaari, Lakhdar Brahimi, Mary Robinson.

Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey and singer-activist Bono, as well as Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel are expected to be among the celebrity mourners.

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and Britain’s Prince Charles, representing Queen Elizabeth II, will also attend.

Jonathan, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, will be accompanied by the Supervising Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, to the Memorial Service.

President Jonathan will also pay his last respects to Dr. Mandela at his lying-in-state at the Union Building in Pretoria on Wednesday, where he served as South Africa’s first democratically-elected President.

The statement reads: “At the conclusion of the event in Pretoria on Wednesday, President Jonathan will leave for Nairobi to honour a long-standing invitation to be a guest of honour at Kenya’s 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations.”

He is expected back in Abuja on Thursday.

The Canadian Prime Minister’s Office said three former prime ministers have confirmed they will accompany Stephen Harper to South Africa to pay final respects to Mandela.

Harper left for Johannesburg yesterday with a delegation that included Jean Chretien, Kim Campbell and Brian Mulroney.

Thousands of South Africans gathered in different churches, mosques and synagogues throughout the country yesterday to pray and celebrate the life of the country’s first black president.

The worshipers responded overwhelmingly to South African President Jacob Zuma’s call for them go to their places of worship, sing at the top of their voices and dance to celebrate Mandela’s life. Mandela died of a long standing lung disease on Dec. 5 at his Johannesburg home at the age of 95.

Zuma, Mandela’s family members and government officials also attended the church services throughout the country, where the late Madiba received praises from the pulpit.

“We should not forget the values that Madiba stood for and sacrificed his life for. He stood for freedom, he fought against those who oppressed others.

“When our struggle came to an end, he preached and practiced reconciliation to make those who had been fighting to forgive one another and become one nation. The prayer services will go a long way to heal our country,” President Zuma said during a church service held at the Bryanston Methodist church in Johannesburg.

Worshipers shouted, “yes,” as Zuma addressed the church gathering which was also attended by Mandela’s former wife Winnie Mandela and other family members.

About 6,000 worshipers gathered in Ngangelizwe Rotary Stadium, in Mthatha, Eastern Cape Province, which is Nelson Mandela’s home province.

“We must mourn the passing of a great man by you becoming all that you can be. Peace has got the power, it can change everything, “Chief Apostle of the 12 Apostles Church, Caesar Nongqunga said during the church service.

He also urged the African National Congress to end divisions with its ranks for Mandela’s sake. Nongqunga said, “You must go to the polls united next year.” During the church service, women and young girls who wore white tops and blue skirts sang at the top of their voices.

In the province of Kwazulu Natal, Mandela’s image was displayed across the stage during a church service attended by the province’ s premier Senzo Mchunu at the Durban Christian Center Jesus Dome, in the city of Durban.

At the Holy Cross church, Nyanga in Cape Town, Arch Bishop Thabo Makgoba of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa told worshipers that Nelson Mandela had set the standard of service to the world. “Through his example, he has set the standard for service to the country and mankind worldwide, whether we are individual citizens, cabinet ministers or presidents, and continues to call on us all to better serve our fellow human beings and contribute to the betterment of our communities.

“Today, Madiba is thought of as Father or Tata to all South Africans but, to the rest of the world, he is undoubtedly thought of as one of the outstanding heroes of the last century, alongside other inspirational global leaders such as Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi,” Makgoba said.

Worshipers throughout the country also took the time to shower the late Mandela with praises.

Tomorrow up to 80,000 people are expected to fill up the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg at a public ceremonial service for Mandela. His body will them lie in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria ahead of the burial that will take place at Mandela’s rural home in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape Province on Sunday.

Comments  

 
0 #1 Dr. Boniface Chizea 2013-12-09 17:29
That 69 world leaders have indicated their intention to attend the funeral ceremony of Mandela speaks volumes regarding his place in the world and what a truly iconic figure he is. One hopes that the living would draw some valuable lessons from this development to understand that greed, selfishness and unprincipled leadership do not leave lasting legacy!
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