Presidents past and present, global figures and A-list celebrities were Monday making their way to South Africa to pay the world’s respects at a memorial service and state funeral for freedom icon Nelson Mandela.
The service has been billed as the biggest funeral in history.
By Monday evening, over 100 presidents and their deputies and heads of state — from Argentina to Zimbabwe — had confirmed they would be attending the memorial and funeral services.
More than 90,000 mourners are expected to attend Tuesday’s memorial service to be held at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg.
Mr Mandela made his last major public appearance at the stadium when South Africa hosted the 2010 Fifa World Cup final. Mandela died on Thursday at the age of 95.
Tuesday’s event, expected to start at noon, Kenyan time, will be broadcast to millions of people across the globe.
South Africa has mobilised 11,000 troops to ensure security and help with crowd control during the week-long series of events.
President Kenyatta left Nairobi for Johannesburg at 6pm Monday. He was accompanied by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.
US President Barack Obama was also travelling to South Africa aboard Air Force One together with First Lady Michelle, former president George W. Bush and his wife Laura, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and UK Prime Minister David Cameron were also heading south for the memorial.
The arrival of such a large number of Heads of State — the highest ever recorded for one event — would be the ultimate test on security, protocol and logistics.
Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson Clayson Monyela tweeted; “The Mandela funeral will officially be the biggest ever in history globally”.
Outside Mr Mandela’s home in Houghton, Johannesburg, 79-year-old Ann Munro was wheeled to lay flowers at the designated place.
WE WERE GUILTY
When the Nation asked her what Mr Mandela meant to her, she choked with emotion and said: “We remember him not only because he set black people free but because he set us white people free as well. We were guilty.”
Ms Munro was speaking of the horrors that black South Africans endured under a white minority rule before the country embraced democracy in 2004.
Monday, the South African Parliament held a special sitting where the public was invited to sit among MPs. During the rare session, speakers paid tribute to Mr Mandela as they delivered their condolences to the family and their country.
The minister of Justice and Social Development, Mr Jeff Radebe said Mandela was no ordinary man.
“The big tree has fallen, the world will never be the same again.”
Opposition leader Lindiwe Mazibuko paid glowing tribute to Mandela and his generation for bequeathing her generation the Rainbow Nation.
“He has transcended his own body of bones and flesh and today his name is a symbol of all we had hoped for,” she said.
Although Mandela had been critically ill for months, the announcement of his death on Thursday night was still a body blow for a country that had looked to his unassailable moral authority as a comforting constant in a time of uncertain social and economic change.
As notable as the dignitaries who will be attending are, so are those who will skip the memorial service.
Those who will not travel include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who cited high travel and security costs and Mandela’s fellow Nobel peace laureate, the Dalai Lama, who since 2009 has twice been denied a visa for South Africa.
Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who has been ailing, will also miss the event although his successor and brother, Raul, was listed among the official guests.
List of confirmed foreign Heads of State and Government attending Mandela events
- Afghanistan: His Excellency Hamid Karzai, President
- Algeria: His Excellency Mr Abdelkader Bensalah, Speaker of the Council of the Nation (Senate) – rank above the Prime Minister
- Angola: His Excellency Mr Manuel Vicente, Vice President
- Argentina: Mr Amado Boudou, Acting President of Argentina
- Australia: His Excellency Mr Tony Abbott, MP, Prime Minister
- Bahamas: Right Honourable Perry Christie, Prime Minister
- Bangladesh: His Excellency Mr Md. Abdul Hamid MD ABDUL, President
- Belgium: His Royal Highness King Philippe
- Benin: His Excellency Boni Yayi, President
- Botswana: His Excellency Lt Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President
- Brazil: Her Excellency Dilma Rousseff, President
- Burundi: His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, President
- Canada: His Excellency Stephen Harper, Prime Minister
- Chad: His Excellency Mr Idriss Deby Itno, President
- China: His Excellency Li Yuanchao, Vice President,
- Comores: His Excellency Dr Ikiliou Dhoinine, President
- Congo (Republic of the Congo): His Excellency Mr Denis Sassou-Nguesso, President
- Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo): His Excellency Joseph Kabila, President
- Cote d Ivoire: His Excellency President Allassane Ouattara, President
- Croatia: His Excellency Josipovic Ivo, President
- Cuba: His Excellency Raul Castro Ruz, President
- Denmark: His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Federick
- Djibouti: His Excellency Ismail Omar Guelleh, President
- Ethiopia: His Excellency Ato Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister
- Equatorial Guinea: His Excellency Mr Obiang Mbasogo, President
- France: His Excellency, Francois Hollande, President
- Finland: His Excellency Sauli Niinisto, President
- Gabon: His Excellency Ali Bongo Ondimba, President
- The Gambia: His Excellency Prof Alhaji Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh, President Sheikh
- Ghana: His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, President
- Germany: His Excellency Joachim Gauck, President
- Guyana: His Excellency Donald Ramotar, President
- Guinea: His Excellency Prof Alpha Conde, President
- India: His Excellency Pranab Mukherjee, President
- Ireland: His Excellency Michael D Higgins, President
- Italy: His Excellency Enrico Letta, Prime Minister
- Japan: His Imperial Highness, Crown Prince Naruhito
- Jamaica: Her Excellency, Portia Simpson Miller, Prime Minister
- Jordan: Her Royal Highness, Queen Rania Al Abdullah and His Excellency Prime Minister Dr Abdullah Ensour
- Kenya: His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, President
- Korea (South): His Excellency Hongwon Chung, Prime Minister
- Lebanon: His Excellency Mr Najib Mikati, Prime Minister
- Lesotho: His Excellency, T Thabane, Prime Minister
- Liberia: Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President
- Mozambique: President of Mozambique, HE Armando Emilio Guebuza
- Namibia: His Excellency Hifikepunye Pohamba, President
- Niger: His Excellency Issoufou Mahamdou, President
- New Zealand: Right Hon John Key, Prime Minister
- Nigeria: His Excellency Goodluck Jonathan, President
- Niger: His Excellency Mahamadou, President of Niger
- Norway: His Royal Highness Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway
- Pakistan: His Excellency Mr Mamnoon Hussain, President
- Palestinian State: His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas, President
- Portugal: His Excellency, Anibal Cavaco Silva, President
- Saudi Arabia: His Royal Highness Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince
- Saharawi Republic: His Excellency Mr Mohamed Abdelaziz, President
- Senegal: His Excellency Macky Sall, President
- Serbia: His Excellency Tomislav Nikolic, President
- Seychelles: His Excellency Mr James Alix MICHEL
- Spain: His Royal Highness Felipe de Borbon, The Prince of Asturias
- Sri Lanka: His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, President
- Sudan: His Excellency Bakri Hassan Salih, Vice President
- Suriname: His Excellency Desire Delano Bouterse, President
- Slovenia: His Excellency Pahor, President
- South Sudan: His Excellency General Salva Kir Mayardit, President
- Sweden: His Excellency Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria.
- Switzerland: His Excellency Mr Ulrich Maurer, President
- Swaziland: His Excellency Dr Sibusiso Dlamini, Prime Minister
- Suriname: His Excellency Desire Delano Bouterse, President
- Tanzania: His Excellency Dr Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President
- Timor-Leste: His Excellency Kay Rala Xanana, Prime Minister
- Tunisia: His Excellency Mohamed Moncef Marzouki, President
- Trinidad and Tobago: His Excellency Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister
- Uganda: His Excellency Yoweri Kagota Museveni, President
- United Arab Emirates: His Excellency Sheikh Nayahan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture – Special Envoy of the Emir
- United Kingdom: His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Prime Minister David Cameron
- United States of America: His Excellency Barack Obama, President
- Venezuela: His Excellency Nicolas Maduro Moros, President
- Zimbabwe: His Excellency Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President
- Zambia: His Excellency Michael Sata, President
- Arab States League: His Excellency Amb Samir Hosny, Minister
- African Union Commission: Her Excellency Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson
- Commonwealth: His Excellency, Mr Kamalesh Sharma
- European Council: His Excellency Mr Herman van Rompuy, President
- Mexico: His Excellency Enrique Pena Nieto President of Mexico
- Mauritius: His Excellency Dr the Honourable Navinchandra, Prime Minister
- Mauritania: His Excellency Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, President
- Malawi: Her Excellency Joyce Banda, President
- Grand Duchy of Luxenbourg: His Royal Highness Henry of Luxembourg, The Grand Duke