Nelson Mandela memorial: `Whole world is coming to South Africa`
In what is supposed to be the largest gathering of international dignitaries in recent history, more than 60 heads of states would be in attendance when ant-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela`s memorial service will be held.
Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha
Johannesburg: In what is supposed to be the largest gathering of international dignitaries in recent history, more than 60 heads of states would be in attendance when ant-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela`s memorial service will be held here on Tuesday.
The grand service will be held at the Johannesburg`s FNB Stadium in Soweto, which was the venue of 2010 soccer World Cup final, when Mandela was last seen making a major public appearance.
Those attending the memorial would constitute who`s who of world politics along with the native South Africans with all converging to Johannesburg to pay final respects to the great leader.
Speaking about the Mandela memorial service, the South African Foreign Ministry said that the entire world was converging upon South Africa to honour the stalwart who ended the white-minority rule and became the first black Prime Minister of the nation in 1995.
"The whole world is coming to South Africa," foreign ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela was quoted as saying by a new agency.
Also, Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president of South Africa`s ruling African National Congress, echoed similar sentiments when he applauded the leader saying that Mandela united the whole world even in his death.
"We pay tribute today to the man that is bringing the whole world to South Africa again, who even in his death can unite a nation," he said at a memorial event.
Some prominent world leaders attending the memorial are US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, UK PM David Cameron, Brazil`s President Dilma Rousseff, German President Joachim Gauck, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, India`s President Pranab Mukherjee, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Crown Prince Felipe of Spain, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would also be attending the huge gathering for the revered leader.
Three former US presidents, George W Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and three former British PMs Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and Sir John Major would also join the service.
Given the huge number of attendees, the South African government has said that it will expand Nelson Mandela`s memorial service to cater for at least 200,000 people, said a report.
It`s been three days since South Africa began a 10-day mourning period after the great anti-apartheid icon, breathed his last on December 5.
Mandela`s state funeral is scheduled for next Sunday on December 15 in his home town of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province before which his body will lie in state in Pretoria from Wednesday to Friday.