South Africa prepares for Mandela funeral
The government of South Africa was working frantically on the weekend to prepare for Tuesday’s memorial service for Nelson Mandela, the “father of the nation”. Officials were working around the clock “to meet the deadlines we have been set,” said Collins Chabane, Minister for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the presidency, on local radio.
Heads of states and dignitaries from around the world are expected to attend the anti-apartheid leader’s memorial service, including French President Francois Hollande, U.S. President Barack Obama as well as former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.
A memorial will be held in Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium. Mandela will be buried in his home village of Qunu on December 15, 2013.
All hotels and car rentals in the capital Pretoria and Johannesburg had been held in reserve to accommodate visiting dignitaries, travel agents said.
South Africans were reflecting on the legacy of Mandela, who died on Thursday evening at the age of 95 in his home.
Many people called radio stations to exchange memories and stories about the former freedom fighter.
Former President Thabo Mbeki noted that “all the major achievements of the (ruling) African National Congress come from the Mandela generation.” Mandela is considered the founding father of democratic South Africa.
South Africans now need to think about how they can live up to Mandela’s ideals of creating a non-racial, equal and inclusive society, Mr. Mbeki said.
“I think we have to admit we are not there yet,” he told local radio station Cape Talk.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said those who predicted the nation would experience racial tensions without Mandela as its moral compass would be “surprised how much stronger South African society is.”