All set for Mandela memorial service   2013-12-10 01:37:49            


The photo taken on Dec. 10, 2013 shows the interior look of the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa. The memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela will be held at the stadium. (Xinhua/Li Qihua) 

By Thuso Khumalo

JOHANNESBRG Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- All is now set for the official memorial service for the late former South African President Nelson Mandela on Tuesday in Johannesburg, the government said on Monday.

However, preparations looked like a logistical nightmare for the officials as about 70 heads of state and governments began arriving.

Registration process took a long time for local and international journalists scrambling to cover the commemorating events. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of South Africans are expected to gather in four stadiums in Johannesburg.

For the first time in history, South Africa will host so many high profile guests.

Mandela died on Dec. 5 after battling a recurring lung infection for months.

The government said the presence of such a huge number of presidents shows how great Mandela was.

Among the heads of state and government are US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will also attend.

Dozens of African Presidents have also confirmed their attendance.

Speaking of the so-called logistical "nightmare", Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said all is under control.

He said, "People must accept that at some stage, this capacity will be filled and police and other authorities will turn people away."

The 95,000-seat FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, where the official memorial service will be held, is expected to fill up to the brim.

Many South Africans say they will not miss the memorial service for anything. South African national Zizipho Sogawula said if it means walking over 10 km to the FNB stadium she is prepared to do it.

"I'm gonna be there at 6 o'clock in the morning when the gates open to make sure I can get a seat inside. It's a once in a lifetime thing. You have to be there, to pay a tribute to uTata, you have to do that. I don't care if it takes me three hours to get to the stadium or even if I don't get inside the stadium, as long as I'm there in the moment, it's all that matters." Sogawula said.

Kasozi Musa, a Ugandan national living in Johannesburg, echoes the same sentiments.

He said, "When it comes to Madiba we are going everywhere. Where it ends that's where we end. Anything, whether, its walks, or walking or anything, we are there, we can do it. He is a symbol, it's a feeling, it's something which is emotional."

But the problems posed by handling such a huge number of dignitaries and mourners have been multiplied by the fact that three extra stadiums in Johannesburg have also been provided to accommodate mourners who will not get space at the FNB stadium. These will also be able to watch all the proceedings at the main venue through a live feed beamed on large screens.

Transport problems are expected to create the worst nightmare as no private cars will be allowed near the FNB stadium.

But Johannesburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau said there is a plan in place.

Tau said, "Arrangements have been made for people to access park and ride facilities, in Standard Bank, in Simonds street, Gold Reef city, Rea vaya services will be dedicated towards mourners. People will also be able to access Patco, Metro Rail and other services to access FBN stadium tomorrow."

With all the transportation services to the memorial service venues given free of charge, there is no doubt Mandela's memorial services will receive a record attendance.

Mandela's body will 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.


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The announcement was made in a written statement by Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Sunday. Full Story

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama will attend a memorial service for late former South African President Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, a White House official said on Saturday.

First lady Michelle will accompany the president on his trip, but U.S. media said the official did not disclose more details about the president's schedule and his delegation. Full story

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OTTAWA, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Saturday that he, together with his three predecessors, will travel to Johannesburg on Sunday to pay their last respects to former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died two days ago.

In a statement, Harper praised Mandela as "one of the world's most respected political and moral leaders." Full story

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JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- The South African government announced on Saturday that preparations are in full swing for the funeral of former president Nelson Mandela.

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BEIJING, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday expressed deep grief over the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95.

In a message of condolences to his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, Xi said the Chinese people will always remember his extraordinary contribution to the development of bilateral relations and the cause of human progress. Full story

Editor: Fu Peng
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