South Africa Prepares for a Global Influx of Mourners

The government has 12 days to receive heads of state, dignitaries, personal friends and other well-wishers

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Alexander Joe / AFP / Getty Images

Nelson Mandela's family graves in Qunu, South Africa, on Jan. 28, 2011

All of the living American presidents plan to be there. Oprah Winfrey, too. Not to mention heads of state, personal friends and hundreds of thousands of South Africans. When a leader of Nelson Mandela’s stature dies, the world comes to pay its respects — and the government has 12 days to prepare for the occasion.

The Guardian has seen an advanced copy of an official itinerary for the state funeral. By day three, foreign diplomats will receive a briefing on the logistics of receiving heads of state, who are expected to arrive by day nine. Two days later, a funeral procession to the Union Buildings will take place in Pretoria.

Screens and loudspeakers will project the ceremony to the crowds that are expected to gather in the compound and around Pretoria City Hall. After the ceremony the body will be flown to Qunu, Mandela’s home village, for final burial at the family compound.

The Guardian reports that foreign dignitaries have been told that they are welcome to attend the ceremony, but will not take priority over South Africans, local leaders and Mandela’s allies in the liberation movement.

[The Guardian]