South Africa Gears Up For Nelson Mandela Memorial
JOHANNESBURG (CBSNewYork/AP) — Leaders from around the world were heading to South Africa on Monday to attend a memorial honoring Nelson Mandela.
As CBS 2′s Dana Tyler reported, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama boarded Air Force One leading a U.S. contingent that also includes former President George W. Bush; his wife, Laura; and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter will join them in Johannesburg.
They will be among nearly 100 current and past world leaders expected to attend Tuesday’s service at FNB Stadium.
Security was mounting Monday at airports in South Africa and the memorial venue. Bulletproof glass was reportedly installed at the stadium to protect the dignitaries who will be among 90,000 mourners in the crowd. About 11,000 troops will be on duty for the unprecedented gathering at the same World Cup soccer stadium in Soweto where Mandela made his last public appearance in 2010.
Rory Steyn, who was the head of Mandela’s security team, said he is concerned about the entire week’s events as the former president’s body will lie in state in the capitol for three days and then will be taken to Mandela’s tiny ancestral village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province for burial Sunday.
“We simpy haven’t had this scale of VIP arrival before,” Steyn said. ” … How do you test that? How do you prepare for this scale of invasion?”
A security lockdown went into effect at midnight Monday. Roadblocks are set up to control traffic as thousands are expected to fill not only FNB Stadium, but also two overflow stadiums. Ninety big screens will also be set up across South Africa so people can watch the four-hour service.
Four of Mandela’s grandchildren are among those slated to speak at the state memorial, along with tributes by foreign dignitaries, including Obama and Cuban President Raol Castro.
Eulogies are also expected to be delivered by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao. Other speakers include the presidents of Brazil, Namibia and India. South African President Jacob Zuma is to give the keynote address.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, French President Francois Hollande and his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and the prime ministers of Canada, Italy and Australia were among the nearly 100 heads of state, government and ministers who have confirmed their attendance, the government said.
Mourners were already camped out Monday to be the first ones inside the stadium.
South Africans have been mourning, but also celebrating.
As CBS 2′s Jessica Schneider reported, jubilant crowds have been dancing and singing outside Mandela’s home for days.
Mandela’s eldest grandson, Mandla, made his way through the fanfare Monday to meet with his entire family. They gathered for one last private viewing of the body before the world says goodbye.
“We believe that probably a billion people will be watching how South Africa will perform,” the country’s defense minister, Nosivewe Mapisa-Nqakula, said. “All of us, black and white, would like to make Madiba proud.”
“That’s exactly what he did in life — and that’s what he’s doing in death: He’s bringing people together,” added Zelda la Grange, Mandela’s former private assistant.
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