UK & World News

  • 6 December 2013, 20:19

Mandela: Funeral Announced As Life Celebrated

Nelson Mandela's funeral will be held at his ancestral home in Qunu a week on Sunday, it has been announced.

The news came as grieving for the iconic anti-apartheid leader turned to a celebration of his life, and tributes continued to pour in.

South Africa's first black president died last night at his Johannesburg home following a long illness.

The 95-year-old had established a unique global status after spending nearly three decades as a political prisoner before leading his country through an unexpectedly peaceful transition to democracy.

Current South African President Jacob Zumaconfirmed Mr Mandela's body will lie in state for three days before a funeral is held on Sunday December 15 in Qunu, the village in Eastern Cape where he was born.

Meanwhile, thousands of South Africans gathered outside Mr Mandela's home in Johannesburg's Houghton neighbourhood, where they sang traditional songs and danced in memory of the man affectionately known as Madiba.

Large numbers also flocked toVilakazi Street in Soweto where the former leader previously lived.

Retired archbishop Desmond Tutu, a prominent anti-apartheid campaigner during Mr Mandela's imprisonment, told a church service in Cape Town that the former president would want South Africans themselves to be his "memorial" by adhering to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied.

"All of us here in many ways amazed the world, a world that was expecting us to be devastated by a racial conflagration," he said.

"God, thank you for the gift of Madiba."

MrZuma had earlier confirmed news of the death, saying "the nation has lost its greatest son".

"He is now resting. He is now at peace," he said.

South Africa's last white president, FW de Klerk, oversaw Mr Mandela's release in 1990, before the pair received the Nobel Peace Prize together for their parts in ending apartheid.

He told Sky News: "He was a great man, a man of great integrity, a man of great wisdom and vision.

"The two sides of Mandela are Mandela the statesman, who was so focused on the necessity of reconciliation - and that will be his main legacy - but there was also Mandela the man, who was likeable and was a good friend."

The former president's body has been taken to a military hospital in Pretoria

One of the many mourners outside his house said she was 12 years old when Mr Mandela was released.

"For me, he represented hope, he represented freedom," she told Sky News Special Correspondent Alex Crawford.

"So today I'm here to show I'm thankful for him. I grew up in a rural area, so it was just blacks. All I knew of white people was going to town. There were places where you could go and couldn't go. I remember from my childhood not being able to go where I wanted to go.

"As he said, the walk is far from being over, but it's a far cry from what it used to be before, so for that I'm thankful. My kids don't know what we knew, but then that's because of him."

British Prime Minister David Cameron had earlier paid his tribute, saying: "Nelson Mandela was not just a hero of our time, but a hero of all time."

US President Barack Obama described him as an "extraordinary man".

"He achieved more than can be expected of any man - and today he's gone home," he said.

The Queen said she was "deeply saddened" by Mr Mandela's death, saying he "worked tirelessly for the good of his country, and his legacy is the peaceful South Africa we see today".

South Africa's apartheid regime lasted from 1948 until Mr Mandela's election in 1994 and saw racial segregation enforced through legislation, with black people's rights heavily restricted and white Afrikaner minority rule maintained.

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