As millions of people in South Africa and other parts of the world mourn the death of Nelson Mandela, 95, the South African President, Jacob Zuma, yesterday announced that a state funeral would be held for Mandela on Sunday, December 15, followed by internment at Qunu in Eastern Cape province same day.
Zuma further said that the official memorial service preceding the burial will be held on December 10, in Johannesburg, adding that Mandela’s body will lie in state from December 11 to December 13, in the UnionBuilding in Pretoria.
Mandela, who was South Africa’s first black president died at home, Thursday night after a protracted illness, arising from series of lung infections.
President Goodluck Jonathan declared three days of national mourning for Mandela, saying that Nigerian flags would be flown at half-mast across the country during the period.
A statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media, Reuben Abati, quoted Jonathan as asking ‘’all Nigerians to unite in solidarity with the brotherly people of South Africa as they mourn the great liberator, freedom fighter and hero of the black race.’’
The President also called for special prayers in mosques and churches in the country during the period of mourning beginning from yesterday, ‘’for the peaceful repose of Mandela’s soul.’’
According to Abati, a special inter-denominational memorial service for Mandela would hold at the State House Chapel tomorrow.
In South Africa, crowds have formed outside Mandela’s house in Johannesburg following the news of his death broke out late Thursday.
Crowds gathered outside the Victor Verster prison in Cape Town, the jail where Nelson Mandela was released from captivity in 1990, just as flowers and notes were laid outside the prison. One read: “We’ll miss you Madiba – may your spirit soar like an eagle.”
Flowers were also laid yesterday at the foot of the Mandela statue in Parliament Square, London, United Kingdom.
The mood in Soweto was also gloomy as people gathered in Vilakazi Street to ‘’celebrate Mandela’s life. It was almost like a street party.”
Mandela was elected South Africa’s first black president after he spent 27 years in prison
Official mourning is expected to last 10 days.
World leaders including Presidents Goodluck Jonathan, Barak Obama, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, UN Secretary, Ban Ki-Moon, Irish Prime Minister, Edna Kenny were among the world leaders who continued to mourn Madiba (as he was popularly known among his people) yesterday.
Among prominent Nigerians who also mourned Mandela yesterday included, Vice President, Namadi Sambo, Senate President, David Mark, his deputy, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the Governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime and the former Governor of Anambra State, Senator Chris Ngige among others.
Vice President Sambo in a statement signed by the Special Adviser on Media, Umar Sani, said that ‘’the world will forever, remember the contributions of the former president of South Africa towards peace and democracy.,’’ adding that the vacuum he left would be difficult to fill in Africa.
Senate President, David Mark, described the late apartheid hero as “one of the greatest Africans that ever lived,” just as his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, said the late freedom fighter was an “epitome of democracy and selfless struggle for good.”
According to Ekweremadu, “Mandela demonstrated that a leader could transform a nation from a land of hate to one of love and equal opportunity in the shortest possible time. A single term was more than enough for him to heal the wounds of apartheid, break the thick walls of animosity, and bring about racial harmony, solid multiracial democracy, and dramatic socioeconomic transfor-mations in South Africa. And he will be greatly missed.”
Professor Soyinka in his tribute said, ‘’the soul of Africa has departed, and there is nothing miraculous left in the world.’
In another email, Soyinka described Mandela, ‘’a man who refused to hate, but struggled to love in order to achieve not his personal ambition, but the ambition of his people to be free. As Madiba goes home, I salute him as the one man who through his book, the ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ touched me, touched millions like me, and above all, cost me a day’s wages as I could not put down the book till I finished reading it.’’
On his own former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar described Mandela as “a great African, a defender of democracy and a brave and courageous freedom fighter (who) paid the supreme price for democracy, freedom and justice.”
According to Atiku, one of the greatest lessons Mandela taught the world was that power was not a matter of life and death.
Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State also said “Mandela would always be remembered as a heroic son of Africa who redefined patriotism, sacrifice and selfless leadership,’’ adding that ‘’the best tribute that African leaders can pay him, is to emulate his principles and values so that like him, they may also lead their respective countries to greatness.”
Former Commonwealth General Secretary, Emeka Anyaoku who recalled Mandela’s stance against violence in fighting the apartheid regime of P.W. Botha in South Africa said that, ‘’it remains an unforgettable image in my mind and, I am sure, in the minds of many others who were present at the Union Buildings amphitheatre in Pretoria on May 10, 1994 to witness Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela take the oath of office as the first democratically elected President of South Africa,’’ pointing out that, ‘’I still remember the tears of joy that rolled down the faces of so many at that wonderful occasion.
‘’Nelson Mandela was a rare human being. What an honour and privilege it is to have been associated with him.’’
The United Progressive Party, Arewa Consultative Forum and textile workers in the country on their own also mourned the departed African icon, asking Nigerian leaders to emulate the virtues of the former South African president.
The ACF and the Vice President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade Issa Aremu, in their separate tributes said Mandela was ‘’an embodiment of peace, relative pluralism nurtured by reconciliation, forgiveness, tolerance, justice, liberty, common decency, equality, accommodation as well as dignity of man,’’ adding that, “since Dr Mandela needs no tomb stone to remind humanity of what he stood and fought for, the only way humanity can show eternal gratitude to the man is to live up his legacies. Adieu Mandela”.
Senator Chris Ngige also celebrated Mandela, pointing out that by his demise the world had lost an embodiment ‘’of humanity, a harbinger of courage; a moving spirit for a people’s unwavering struggle to freedom; a tower of knowledge deployed to public good, and an abode of forthrightness.’’
The BBC also reported the tweets from Daniel Howden, of the Economist thus, ‘’Priest at Mandela home: To those who have faith he was a miracle, to those without, he surpassed all human expectation,’’ just as a novelist, J. M. Coetzee, renown for his inspiring recording of the impact of apartheid on South Africa, wrote that, “Mandela held a turbulent country together during the dangerous years 1990-94,”
A statement about Nelson Mandela by the Afghan President Hamid Karzai said, “An icon of our time, for man’s dignity, equality and freedom. A selfless human being, who struggled not only for the black South Africans against apartheid, but for the dignity of all of us. History will throw a very kind light on him.”
In China, Nelson Mandela has been remembered as a friend of the country who praised its communist revolution. Flowers were laid at the South African embassy in Beijing.
Former Chinese ambassador to South Africa and now China’s special envoy to Africa, Liu Guijin, told the BBC World Service, that in 2002 Mandela “tried to phone George Bush but failed. Nelson Mandela personally tried to stop the Iraq war,. “So he phoned the old Bush (George Snr) and asked him to teach his son a lesson not to be that aggressive.”
Also, Gedefaw in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia wrote that: Mandela taught the ‘’world forgiveness, love, dedication, and peace. South Africans were lucky enough to have had such a devoted and democrat leader.’’
Pope Francis in a statement said it was “with great sadness that I learned of the death of former President Nelson Mandela”. He paid tribute to “the steadfast commitment” shown by Mandela “in promoting the human dignity of all nations’ citizens, and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth.”
The European Commission is flying its EU flags at half mast in Brussels, while children prayed in an Ahmadabad classroom in India.
Flowers have been laid outside the South African embassy in Berlin.
In Paris, a giant portrait of the late former South African president hangs on the facade of the French foreign ministry, the Quai d’Orsay, even as flags were flying at half mast on government buildings in Dublin, Ireland.
Ireland’s first woman president Mary Robinson, who worked closely with Nelson Mandela, says he was “a huge flirt”. She adds: “Why is it that we celebrate that we are so sad, that we feel a loss as if it’s a family member? Why are we so bereft? Because he was the best of us. He was the best of our values.”
Also, in an email, Karin Lachmising of Paramaribo, Suriname, wrote, ‘’In 1990 I sat in front of my television, I was living in Holland at that moment.. and watched how miles and miles away from me Nelson Mandela walked out of prison and tears started flowing. Now 2013 I am again sitting alone in front of my TV, now living in Suriname, and tears flow again.
former US Secretary of State Colin Powell, said, “Nelson Mandela taught all of us that even though you have disagreements and you are in an adversarial position with each other, sooner or later you’ve got to resolve those adversarial positions and join hands to move forward.”
All over the world, the mood was the same. Pupils in the UK sent their thoughts, reflections and even poems to the BBC, some of which read: ‘’Madiba was a very special man. My husband and I met him at a business conference. He was busy speaking to someone and he shook my husband’s hand and held it until the other person had finished talking, just to make us feel important. He touched many peoples’ lives in this manner. Everyone was special to him.’’
Other emails from other parts of the world stated that ‘’Nelson Mandela leaves many lessons and one of them says it’s possible to fight for a society that’s more just, where the value of people is not measured by their origin, skin colour or social status. Mandela believed in an ideal of justice and made it happen. His mission was accomplished and his example will surely stay with us.’’
Meanwhile, the South African President Jacob Zuma has thanked his people over the dignified manner they responded to the death of Madiba.
”We sincerely thank all South Africans for the dignified manner in which they have responded to the monumental loss of this international icon who was a symbol of reconciliation, unity, love, human rights and justice in our country and in the world,” Zuma said in a live television address.
Qunu, Mandela’s final resting place
QUNU, the quiet South African village where Nelson Mandela was born and grew up, is set to become a permanent tourist centre.
For those wishing to pay their respects to the nation’s first black president, will have the opportunity to visit his Museum few meters away from his home.
Mandela will be buried at Qunu on Sunday, 15 December, South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma announced yesterday.
The event will be attended by world leaders including President Obama and David Cameron as well as TV personality Oprah Winfrey, who was close to the statesman. Bill and Hilary Clinton are also expected to attend. Until then, the 95-year-old’s body will lie in state at the seat of government, the Union Buildings, in the capital of Pretoria.
Flags in South Africa will fly at half-mast during a period of mourning prior to the state funeral. Both houses of parliament will be recalled from recess for a special joint sitting in honour of Mandela’s legacy and official memorial services will be held across the country.
When the official ceremonies are over – including a memorial service – Mandela’s remains will be flown to the Eastern Cape, the “hilly rural area” where the former president was born and grew up.
The site of Mandela’s last resting place has been the subject of a bitter court battle involving some of his relatives. Mandla Mandela, Mandela’s official heir, was accused of moving the bodies of three of the former South African president’s children from Qunu to Mvezo, about 12 miles away – reportedly because he wanted his own village to benefit from an influx of Mandela pilgrims. It was alleged he did not consult other family members about the exhumations and a judge ordered him to return the remains to their original graves.
Now that the court battle is over, Mandela will be laid to rest in a place where he spent “some of the happiest years of my boyhood”, according to his memoirs.