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Nelson Mandela dies

Nelson Mandela, the revered statesman who emerged from prison after 27 years to lead South Africa out of decades of apartheid, died Thursday.

Mandela was 95.

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In Chicago, Congressman Bobby Rush hosted a “People’s Tribute” to Nelson Mandela Sunday.

Rush is a pastor at the Beloved Community Christian Church of God and Christ on the south side.

The memorial service brought together representatives from Chicago’s Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim communities to celebrate Mandela’s message of inclusion.

Among the speakers wad former governor George Ryan who talked about Mandela’s influence on decisions Ryan made in office.

Congressman Rush said one of the highlights of his life was helping to organize Mandela’s visit to Chicago after his release from prison.

Years later, Mandela invited Rush and his wife to visit his home in South Africa.

With military pomp and traditional rituals, South Africa buried Nelson Mandela on Sunday, the end of an exceptional journey for the prisoner turned president who transformed the nation.

Mandela was laid to rest in his childhood village of Qunu.

Tribal leaders clad in animal skins joined dignitaries in dark suits at the grave site overlooking the rolling green hills.

As pallbearers walked toward the site after a funeral ceremony, helicopters whizzed past dangling the national flag. Cannons fired a 21-gun salute, its echoes ringing over the quiet village.

Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief as she watched the proceedings.

“Yours was truly a long walk to freedom. Now you have achieved the ultimate freedom in the bosom of God, your maker,” an officiator at the grave site said.

Military pallbearers gently removed the South African flag that draped the coffin and handed it to President Jacob Zuma, who gave it to Mandela’s family.

At the request of the family, the lowering of the casket was closed to the media.

CaptureThe funeral ceremony

Before making their way to the grave site, mourners attended a service in a tent set up at the family compound. They wept, sang and danced in what has become a familiar celebration of his life.

Mandela’s coffin, draped in his country’s flag, lay atop black and white cattle skins in front of a crescent of 95 candles, each marking a year of his life.

As the national anthem “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” or “God Bless Africa” drifted over the village, a giant picture of Mandela looked down with a smile. Mourners placed their fists on their chests, some with tears streaming down their faces.

“Today marks the end of an extraordinary journey that began 95 years ago,” Zuma said during the ceremony. “It is the end of 95 glorious years of a freedom fighter … a beacon of hope to all those fighting for a just and equitable world order.”

The president thanked Mandela’s family for sharing him with the world and said his memory will live on.

“We shall not say goodbye, for you are not gone,” Zuma said. “You’ll live forever in our hearts and minds.”

About 4,500 people gathered in the tent, including Machel, who sat next to Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie Mandela.

In other major cities including Johannesburg, crowds watched the funeral at special screenings in stadiums.

‘I’ve lost a brother’

Mourners represented all spheres of Mandela’s life. There were celebrities, presidents, relatives and former political prisoners.

“You symbolize today and always will … qualities of forgiveness and reconciliation,” said a tearful Ahmed Kathrada, a close friend who served time in prison with Mandela for defying the apartheid government. “I’ve lost a brother. My life is in a void, and I don’t know who to turn to.”

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey, Prince Charles and business mogul Richard Branson were also among the attendees.

Final chapter

The funeral and burial cap 10 days of national mourning for a man whose fame transcended borders.

“Nelson Mandela was our leader, our hero, our icon and our father as much as he was yours,” Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said, regaling mourners with tales of a secret visit Mandela made in 1962 to Dar es Salaam to gather support for his party, the African National Congress.

During his fight against apartheid, Mandela fled to Tanzania, which housed the headquarters of the ANC. The white minority government had banned it in South Africa.

In sharp contrast to the days of apartheid, the events honoring Mandela included a great deal of pageantry, as well as state honors.

Mandela’s body arrived Saturday in the tiny village in the Eastern Cape province, where he grew up surrounded by lush, tranquil hills and velvety green grass.

Before arriving in Qunu, the body lay in state for three days in Pretoria. After an emotional service at the air base there, which included the handing over of his body to the ruling African National Congress, it was put in a military helicopter for the final leg of his journey.

Though he dined with kings and presidents in his lifetime, the international icon relished his time at the village. He herded cows and goats there as a child, and always said it’s where he felt most at peace. Some of his children are also buried there.

“He really believed this is where he belonged,” said his daughter, Maki Mandela.

Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years for defying the racist apartheid government that led South Africa for decades. He emerged from prison in 1990 and became South Africa’s first black president four years later, all the while promoting forgiveness and reconciliation.

His defiance of white minority rule and his long incarceration for fighting segregation focused the world’s attention on apartheid, the legalized racial segregation enforced by the South African government until 1994.

Years after his 1999 retirement from the presidency, Mandela was considered the ideal head of state. He became a yardstick for African leaders, who consistently fell short when measured against him.

“Thank you for being everything we wanted and needed in a leader during a difficult period in our lives,” Zuma said.

In keeping with tradition, Mandela was laid to rest in the afternoon, when the sun is at its highest.
TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Chicagoans gathered to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s life and their pay respects at a local service. The former South African President was 95 when he passed away last week.

Last night’s program consisted of music, prayer and stories about Mandela’s activism. Governor Quinn urged people to continue working toward the freedom and equality that Mandela spent 27 years of his life in prison fighting for.

Other memorial services will be held throughout the Chicago, and all over the world this weekend. Nelson Mandela’s body will be laid to rest tomorrow.

Nicholas Pearce, Clinical Assistant of Management at Northwestern University

 

They gathered in the tens of thousands — presidents, prime ministers, royals, celebrities and ordinary South Africans — all united to say farewell to a man hailed as a global symbol of reconciliation.

In what has been billed as one of the largest gatherings of global leaders in recent history, representatives from around the world joined street sweepers, actors and religious figures to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela.

From President Barack Obama to Cuba’s Raul Castro, praise came from all sides in a four-hour memorial service at Johannesburg FNB stadium for the revered statesman, who died Thursday at age 95.

“We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again,” Obama said in a speech to roaring cheers.

“To the people of South Africa — people of every race and every walk of life — the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us,” he said, calling him a “giant of history.”

Gray skies and pouring rain throughout the service did little to dampen the mood.

Inside the stadium, the atmosphere was celebratory, with people dancing, blowing vuvuzela plastic horns and singing songs from the anti-apartheid struggle.

Around them, huge poster pictures of Mandela hung inside the stadium. In that same place 23 years earlier, Mandela had delivered his first speech after he was released from prison, hailed by supporters as the hope of a new South Africa.

Also known as Soccer City, the stadium was where Mandela made his last public appearance at the World Cup final in July 2010.

On Tuesday, many people carried banners honoring “Madiba,” Mandela’s traditional clan name. Others were draped in materials covered with his face or the green, yellow, black, red and blue colors of the South African flag.

Some had skipped work and lined up for hours to secure seats so that they could pay their respects to a man who’s considered a moral compass and South Africa’s symbol of the struggle against racial oppression.

“There is no one like Madiba. He was one of a kind,” South African President Jacob Zuma said.

“Everyone has had a Mandela moment when this world icon has touched their lives.”

‘Tata Madiba’

The memorial service, coinciding with U.N. Human Rights Day, was the centerpiece of a week of mourning.

It began with a marching band playing the national anthem.

The joyous cries died down as speeches from Mandela’s family and friends, members of the African National Congress, as well as a fellow Robben Island prison inmate, began.

Anguished faces listened quietly as a sorrowful chant to “Tata Madiba” filled the air. “Tata” means “father” in Mandela’s Xhosa tribe.

‘The world has lost a beloved friend and mentor’

Mandela’s gift for uniting foes across political and racial divides was still evident at the service.

Walking up the stairs onto the stage to deliver his speech, Obama shook hands with Castro, an unprecedented gesture between the leaders of two nations that have been at loggerheads for more than half a century.

He earlier gave a warm greeting to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, kissing her on both cheeks, despite recent tension between the two countries over reports the U.S. government was spying on her communications.

CaptureObama, who like Mandela was his nation’s first black president, has cited Mandela as his own inspiration for entering politics.

He said his death should prompt self-reflection.

“With honesty, regardless of our station or our circumstance, we must ask: How well have I applied his lessons in my own life?” Obama said.

“It is a question I ask myself, as a man and as a president. We know that like South Africa, the United States had to overcome centuries of racial subjugation. As was true here, it took sacrifice — the sacrifices of countless people, known and unknown — to see the dawn of a new day.”

The presidents of Namibia, India, Cuba and South Africa were also designated speakers, as were Roussef and Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao.

“South Africa has lost a hero, they have lost a father. The world has lost a beloved friend and mentor,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said to loud cheers.

“Nelson Mandela was more than one of the greatest leaders of our time, he was one of the greatest teachers. And he taught by example.”

The stadium, which can seat around 90,000 people, was not full, and speeches were hard to hear at times. But the celebratory mood was evident as thousands clapped and waved South African flags throughout the service.

Presidents and celebrities

Foreign guests included British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Prince of Wales, French President Francois Hollande and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

“It means a lot because it really is to say goodbye to an extraordinary man and to commemorate someone who did so much not just for South Africa, but also for the world in terms of the inspiration that he gave,” Cameron told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and members of The Elders, a group of retired statesmen founded by Mandela and others, were also in attendance, including former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

The crowds cheered loudly and clapped as a huge screen showed famous faces, such as F.W. de Klerk, the last leader of white South Africa, who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela for helping to end apartheid.

Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, and his former wife Winnie Mandela embraced and kissed as they arrived.

The world of entertainment also was well represented, with South African actress Charlize Theron and U2′s Bono in attendance. Celebrity guests also included model Naomi Campbell.

Tight security

With 91 heads of state attending, security was tight.

Working off plans developed for years in secret, the South African government planned to use an elite military task force, sniper teams and canine teams to help secure the stadium, CNN’s Arwa Damon reported Monday. In addition, helicopters and military jets frequently flew overhead.

U.S. officials said they were satisfied with security arrangements.

The event rivaled other significant state funerals in recent decades, such as that of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1965 and the 2005 funeral of Pope John Paul II, which attracted some 2 million people to Rome — among them four kings, five queens, at least 70 presidents and prime ministers and the leaders of 14 other faiths.

Security was also stepped up outside Mandela’s home, where crowds danced under umbrellas. Some even enjoyed the rain, jumping into puddles.

“We want to respect our father of the nation, our father of the country. That is why we left work to pay that respect to him,” one South African told CNN.

State funeral on Sunday

Crews had worked overtime Monday to prepare the stadium for the service.

The government set up overflow locations at stadiums and other facilities throughout the country.

With private vehicles banned from the area around the stadium, the government pressed buses from around the country into service and stepped up train service to move the crowds.

In Soweto township, where Mandela lived before he was imprisoned for 27 years, people waited for three hours for buses to take them to the stadium. Unfazed by the wait, they sang and danced.

While Tuesday’s memorial is the first major event honoring Mandela since his death, it won’t be the last.

A state funeral will be held Sunday in Mandela’s ancestral hometown of Qunu in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province.

Other speakers at Tuesday’s service included Mandela’s friend and fellow anti-apartheid activist Archbishop Tutu

“We promise God that we are going to follow the example of Nelson Mandela,” he said to loud cheers.

Mandela family members, including his grandchildren, also spoke.

Paying tribute to his uncle, Gen. Thanduxolo Mandela said his family has gone through waves of grief, sorrow and anguish after his death.

But “today, more than any other feeling my family holds is thankfulness for that wonderful life,” he said, also giving thanks for the outpouring of respect from around the world

“This universal show of unity is a true reflection of all that Madiba stood for — peace, justice, unity of all mankind. Let us pledge to keep Madiba’s dream alive.”
TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

nelsonmandelamemorialThey gathered in the tens of thousands — presidents, prime ministers, royals, celebrities and ordinary South Africans — all united to say farewell to a man hailed as a global symbol of reconciliation.

In what has been billed as one of the largest gatherings of global leaders in recent history, representatives from around the world joined street sweepers, actors and religious figures to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela.

From President Barack Obama to Cuba’s Raul Castro, praise came from all sides in a four-hour memorial service at Johannesburg FNB stadium for the revered statesman, who died Thursday at age 95.

“We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again,” Obama said in a speech to roaring cheers.

“To the people of South Africa — people of every race and every walk of life — the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us,” he said, calling him a “giant of history.”

Gray skies and pouring rain throughout the service did little to dampen the mood.

Inside the stadium, the atmosphere was celebratory, with people dancing, blowing vuvuzela plastic horns and singing songs from the anti-apartheid struggle.

Around them, huge poster pictures of Mandela hung inside the stadium. In that same place 23 years earlier, Mandela had delivered his first speech after he was released from prison, hailed by supporters as the hope of a new South Africa.

Also known as Soccer City, the stadium was where Mandela made his last public appearance at the World Cup final in July 2010.

On Tuesday, many people carried banners honoring “Madiba,” Mandela’s traditional clan name. Others were draped in materials covered with his face or the green, yellow, black, red and blue colors of the South African flag.

Some had skipped work and lined up for hours to secure seats so that they could pay their respects to a man who’s considered a moral compass and South Africa’s symbol of the struggle against racial oppression.

“There is no one like Madiba. He was one of a kind,” South African President Jacob Zuma said.

“Everyone has had a Mandela moment when this world icon has touched their lives.”

‘Tata Madiba’

The memorial service, coinciding with U.N. Human Rights Day, was the centerpiece of a week of mourning.

It began with a marching band playing the national anthem.

The joyous cries died down as speeches from Mandela’s family and friends, members of the African National Congress, as well as a fellow Robben Island prison inmate, began.

Anguished faces listened quietly as a sorrowful chant to “Tata Madiba” filled the air. “Tata” means “father” in Mandela’s Xhosa tribe.

‘The world has lost a beloved friend and mentor’

Mandela’s gift for uniting foes across political and racial divides was still evident at the service.

Walking up the stairs onto the stage to deliver his speech, Obama shook hands with Castro, an unprecedented gesture between the leaders of two nations that have been at loggerheads for more than half a century.

Obama, who like Mandela was his nation’s first black president, has cited Mandela as his own inspiration for entering politics.

He said his death should prompt self-reflection.

“With honesty, regardless of our station or our circumstance, we must ask: How well have I applied his lessons in my own life?” Obama said.

“It is a question I ask myself, as a man and as a president. We know that like South Africa, the United States had to overcome centuries of racial subjugation. As was true here, it took sacrifice — the sacrifices of countless people, known and unknown — to see the dawn of a new day.”

The presidents of Brazil, Namibia, India, Cuba and South Africa were also designated speakers, as was Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao.

“South Africa has lost a hero, they have lost a father. The world has lost a beloved friend and mentor,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said to loud cheers.

“Nelson Mandela was more than one of the greatest leaders of our time, he was one of the greatest teachers. And he taught by example.”

The stadium, which can seat around 90,000 people, was not full, and speeches were hard to hear at times. But the celebratory mood was evident as thousands clapped and waved South African flags throughout the service.

Presidents and celebrities

Foreign guests included British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Prince of Wales, French President Francois Hollande and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

“It means a lot because it really is to say goodbye to an extraordinary man and to commemorate someone who did so much not just for South Africa, but also for the world in terms of the inspiration that he gave,” Cameron told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and members of The Elders, a group of retired statesmen founded by Mandela and others, were also in attendance, including former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

The crowds cheered loudly and clapped as a huge screen showed famous faces, such as F.W. de Klerk, the last leader of white South Africa, who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela for helping to end apartheid.

Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, and his former wife Winnie Mandela embraced and kissed as they arrived.

The world of entertainment also was well represented, with South African actress Charlize Theron and U2′s Bono in attendance. Celebrity guests also included model Naomi Campbell.

Tight security

With 91 heads of state attending, security was tight.

Working off plans developed for years in secret, the South African government planned to use an elite military task force, sniper teams and canine teams to help secure the stadium, CNN’s Arwa Damon reported Monday. In addition, helicopters and military jets frequently flew overhead.

U.S. officials said they were satisfied with security arrangements.

The event rivaled other significant state funerals in recent decades, such as that of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1965 and the 2005 funeral of Pope John Paul II, which attracted some 2 million people to Rome — among them four kings, five queens, at least 70 presidents and prime ministers and the leaders of 14 other faiths.

Security was also stepped up outside Mandela’s home, where crowds danced under umbrellas. Some even enjoyed the rain, jumping into puddles.

“We want to respect our father of the nation, our father of the country. That is why we left work to pay that respect to him,” one South African told CNN.

State funeral on Sunday

Crews had worked overtime Monday to prepare the stadium for the service.

The government set up overflow locations at stadiums and other facilities throughout the country.

With private vehicles banned from the area around the stadium, the government pressed buses from around the country into service and stepped up train service to move the crowds.

In Soweto township, where Mandela lived before he was imprisoned for 27 years, people waited for three hours for buses to take them to the stadium. Unfazed by the wait, they sang and danced.

While Tuesday’s memorial is the first major event honoring Mandela since his death, it won’t be the last.

A state funeral will be held Sunday in Mandela’s ancestral hometown of Qunu in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province.

Other speakers at Tuesday’s service included Mandela’s friend and fellow anti-apartheid activist Archbishop Tutu

“We promise God that we are going to follow the example of Nelson Mandela,” he said to loud cheers.

Mandela family members, including his grandchildren, also spoke.

Paying tribute to his uncle, Gen. Thanduxolo Mandela said his family has gone through waves of grief, sorrow and anguish after his death.

But “today, more than any other feeling my family holds is thankfulness for that wonderful life,” he said, also giving thanks for the outpouring of respect from around the world

“This universal show of unity is a true reflection of all that Madiba stood for — peace, justice, unity of all mankind. Let us pledge to keep Madiba’s dream alive.”

TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

By Holly Yan, CNN

More than 90 heads of state are on their way to South Africa for what is expected to be the largest gathering of world leaders in Africa’s history.

It’s a clear sign of what kind of impact Nelson Mandela left on the world.

Mandela, the activist who spent 27 years in prison before becoming his country’s first black president, died Thursday at the age of 95.

U.S. President Barack Obama heads to Johannesburg on Monday for Mandela’s official memorial service, which will take place Tuesday in the city’s soccer stadium. But the 90,000 seats probably won’t be enough to house the many mourners wanting to pay thanks to the great anti-apartheid leader.

A state funeral will be held Sunday in Mandela’s ancestral hometown of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province.

At least 91 heads of state and 10 former heads of state have said they’re coming to South Africa this week, government international relations spokesman Clayson Monyela said.

In addition to Obama, former presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton will attend. More than two dozen U.S. lawmakers are also scheduled to attend.

Other guests include the Prince of Wales, British Prime Minister David Cameron and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as celebrities such as Bono, Oprah Winfrey and Naomi Campbell.

Out of the public eye, friends who had not seen each other in years have been coming together with Mandela’s family in his home, said Zelda la Grange, Mandela’s longtime personal assistant.

Mandela called La Grange his “rock” even though she seemed an unlikely confidante. She was a white Afrikaner and an employee of the former apartheid government.

In her first interview since Mandela’s death, she described the mood in his home to CNN’s Robyn Curnow on Monday.

“Obviously there’s sadness in the house,” she said, but also, “People are celebrating Madiba’s life. They are grateful.”

South African President Jacob Zuma, who announced Mandela’s death Thursday, referred to Mandela by his well-known clan name Sunday as he asked churchgoers to remember the former president’s values.

“When I say we pray for the nation, (it) is that we should pray for us not to forget some of the values that Madiba stood for, that he fought for, that he sacrificed his life for,” he said. “He stood for freedom. He fought against those who oppressed others. He wanted everyone to be free.”

In a suburb of Pretoria, parishioners said they were grateful for the man who saved them from revenge.

“His presence in our lives meant so much for the Afrikaaner people, allowed them to get rid of their guilt feelings and to participate in the journey that he invited us to join,” Wilhelm Jordaan said.

Once again, Mandela has brought the country together.

CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Kim Norgaard, Robin Curnow, Arwa Damon and David McKenzie contributed to this report

TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

People gathered to mourn and remember Nelson Mandela today, the first Sunday since his death.

At St. Sabina Church, Father Thulani Magwaza used his sermon to bring home a message from his homeland South Africa; the message to fight and forgive.  It was something he learned from Mandela.

Outside the Mandela family home in South Africa today, a celebration of the former president’s life took shape.   As a younger man, Mandela fought against apartheid and was imprisoned for it.

“Mandela is a fighter. Mandela is a warrior. Mandela is someone who fought for racial and social equality,” Magwaza said.  What I’m saying is that he should not lose sight of why he went to prison.”

The message not lost on the catholic priest, raised under apartheid, who now calls Chicago’s St. Sabina church home.

There are still bullet holes in the stained-glass windows of this church.

They’re a reminder, Tommy Zwane says, of the dark days before Nelson Mandela became his country’s first democratically elected president.

The Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Soweto was at the heart of the uprising against apartheid — most famously on June 16, 1976, when young students rebelled against the education system and were fired upon by police.

“Things were difficult for everybody, for black people in this country. We used to run and come to this church to pray to God so that he could come and assist us, because we were in trouble at that time,” Zwane said. “There was no understanding between us and the government of South Africa.”

mandelaOn Sunday, people filled the church’s pews for a very different reason — to sing, pray and honor Mandela’s legacy days after his death in a home nearby.

Services at churches, synagogues and mosques throughout South Africa honored Mandela.

The national day of remembrance is one of a string of events planned to say farewell to the iconic figure who helped South Africa break the practice of racial segregation and end white minority rule.

A massive memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday in Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium, which can hold 94,000 people.

A state funeral will be held December 15 in Mandela’s ancestral hometown of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province.

At least 70 heads of state and 10 former heads of state have said they’re coming to South Africa this week, government international relations spokesman Clayson Monyela said.

From the United States, officials said, U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will be accompanied by President Jimmy Carter, President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton and their wives. More than two dozen U.S. lawmakers are also scheduled to attend.

South African President Jacob Zuma, who announced Mandela’s death Thursday, used the revered leader’s well-known clan name Sunday as he asked churchgoers to remember the former president’s values.

“When I say we pray for the nation, (it) is that we should pray for us not to forget some of the values that Madiba stood for, that he fought for, that he sacrificed his life for,” he said. “He stood for freedom. He fought against those who oppressed others. He wanted everyone to be free.”

In a suburb of Pretoria, parishioners said they were grateful for the man who saved them from revenge.

“His presence in our lives meant so much for the Afrikaaner people, allowed them to get rid of their guilt feelings and to participate in the journey that he invited us to join,” Wilhelm Jordaan said.

In Soweto, Kathy and Stewart Allen said they don’t normally attend the Regina Mundi church. But they wanted to be there on Sunday.

“We believe that this church embodies all the history, and everything that he stood for,” Kathy Allen said.

Once again, Stewart Allen said, Mandela has brought the country together.
TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

JOHANNESBURG—

South Africans are united in mourning for Nelson Mandela on Friday, but while some celebrated his remarkable life with dance and song, others fretted that the anti-apartheid hero’s death would make the nation vulnerable again to racial and social tensions.

President Jacob Zuma said the anti-apartheid hero would be buried on Dec. 15 at his ancestral home in the Eastern Cape after 10 days of national mourning.

Obama’s exact schedule was as yet unclear, the White House said. It was not yet known whether Obama would give public remarks while in South Africa.

“President Obama and the first lady will go to South Africa next week to pay their respects to the memory of Nelson Mandela and to participate in memorial events. We’ll have further updates on timing and logistics as they become available,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

Obama, speaking Thursday night shortly after Mandela’s death at age 95 was announced, said he was one of the “countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s life.”

Obama, America’s first black president, also said the first political action he ever took as a young man was attending a protest against apartheid.

Carney, at his daily news briefing, said Obama and Mandela last spoke in 2010 or 2011 and that they also spoke when Obama won his first election as president, in 2008.

He had no details on who might be in the U.S. delegation traveling with Obama, including whether former U.S. presidents might go with him.

President Obama spoke to Nelson Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, by phone on Friday to express condolences over the former South African president’s death, the White House said.

“The president thanked Mrs. Machel for the profound influence that Nelson Mandela has had on him, and underscored the power of President Mandela’s example for the people of South Africa and the entire world,” the White House said in a statement.

“President Obama expressed gratitude and thanks for the joy that Graca Machel brought to Nelson Mandela’s life, and the commitment to a peaceful, fair, and loving world that she and President Mandela shared.”

South Africans had heard from Zuma late on Thursday that the statesman and Nobel Peace Prize laureate died peacefully at his Johannesburg home in the company of his family after a long illness.

“The outpouring of love is unprecedented. It demonstrates the kind of leader Madiba was,” he said, using Mandela’s clan name.

On Friday, the country’s 52 million people absorbed the news that their most revered statesman, a global symbol of reconciliation and peaceful co-existence, had departed forever.Zuma also announced the former president would be honored with a Dec. 10 memorial service at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium – the site of the 2010 World Cup final.

“We will spend the week mourning his passing. We will also spend it celebrating a life well lived,” Zuma said.

Zuma said the country’s first black president would be laid to rest at his ancestral village of Qunu, 450 miles south of Johannesburg, in a family plot where three of Mandela’s children and other close family members are buried.

Despite reassurances from public figures that Mandela’s passing, while sorrowful, would not halt South Africa’s advance away from its apartheid past, there were those who expressed unease about the absence of a man famed as a peacemaker.

“It’s not going to be good, hey! I think it’s going to become a more racist country. People will turn on each other and chase foreigners away,” said Sharon Qubeka, 28, a secretary from Tembisa township.

“Mandela was the only one who kept things together”.

Flags flew at half mast across the country, and trade was halted for five minutes on the Johannesburg stock exchange.

But the mood was not all somber. Hundreds filled the streets around Mandela’s home in the upmarket Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, many singing songs of tribute and dancing.

The crowd included toddlers carrying flowers, domestic workers still in uniform and businessmen in suits.

Many attended church services, including another veteran anti-apartheid campaigner, former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu. He said that like all South Africans he was “devastated” by Mandela’s death.

“Let us give him the gift of a South Africa united, one,” Tutu said, holding a mass in Cape Town’s St George’s Cathedral.

An avalanche of tributes continued to pour in for Mandela, who had been ailing for nearly a year with a recurring lung illness dating back to the 27 years he spent in apartheid jails, including the notorious Robben Island penal colony.

Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron were among world leaders who paid tributes to him as a moral giant and exemplary beacon.

The loss was also keenly felt across the African continent. “We are in trouble now, Africa. No one will fit Mandela’s shoes,” said Kenyan teacher Catherine Ochieng, 32.

Politicians now ‘nothing like Mandela’

For South Africa, the death of its most loved leader comes at a time when the nation, which basked in global goodwill after apartheid ended, has been experiencing labor unrest, growing protests against poor services, poverty, crime and unemployment and corruption scandals tainting Zuma’s rule.

Many saw today’s South Africa – the African continent’s biggest economy but also one of the world’s most unequal – still distant from being the “Rainbow Nation” ideal of social peace and shared prosperity that Mandela had proclaimed on his triumphant release from prison in 1990.

“I feel like I lost my father, someone who would look out for me,” said Joseph Nkosi, 36, a security guard from Alexandra township in Johannesburg.

Referring to Mandela by his clan name, he added: “Now without Madiba I feel like I don’t have a chance. The rich will get richer and simply forget about us. The poor don’t matter to them. Look at our politicians, they are nothing like Madiba.”

The crowd around Mandela’s home in Houghton preferred to celebrate his achievement in bringing South Africans together.

For 16-year-old Michael Lowry, who has no memory of the apartheid system that ended in 1994, Mandela’s legacy means he can have non-white friends. He attended two schools where Mandela’s great grandchildren were also students.

“I hear stories that my parents tell me and I’m just shocked that such a country could exist. I couldn’t imagine just going to school with just white friends,” Lowry said.

Shortly after the news of Mandela’s death, Tutu had tried to calm fears that the absence of the man who steered South Africa to democracy might revive some of the ghosts of apartheid.

“To suggest that South Africa might go up in flames – as some have predicted – is to discredit South Africans and Madiba’s legacy,” Tutu said in a statement on Thursday.

“The sun will rise tomorrow, and the next day and the next … It may not appear as bright as yesterday, but life will carry on,” Tutu said.

Long-term impact

Zuma and his ruling African National Congress face presidential and legislative elections next year which are expected to reveal discontent among voters about pervasive poverty and unemployment 20 years after the end of apartheid.

But the former liberation movement is expected to maintain its predominance in South African politics.

Mark Rosenberg, Senior Africa Analyst at the Eurasia Group, said that while Mandela’s death might even give the ANC a sympathy-driven boost for elections due next year, it would hurt the party in the long term.

He saw Mandela’s absence “sapping the party’s historical legitimacy and encouraging rejection by voters who believe the ANC has failed to deliver on its economic promises and become mired in corruption.”

Mandela rose from rural obscurity to challenge the might of white minority rule – a struggle that gave the 20th century one of its most respected and loved figures.

He was among the first to advocate armed resistance to apartheid in 1960 but was quick to preach reconciliation and forgiveness when the white minority began easing its grip on power 30 years later.

He was elected president in landmark all-race elections in 1994 after helping to steer the racially divided country towards reconciliation and away from civil war.

Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, an honor he shared with F.W. de Klerk, the white Afrikaner president who released him in 1990. Reacting to his death, the Nobel Committee said Mandela would remain one of the greatest ever prizewinners.

In 1999, Mandela handed over power to younger leaders better equipped to manage a modern economy – a rare voluntary departure from power cited as an example to African leaders.

This made him an exception on a continent with a bloody history of long-serving autocrats and violent coups.

Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

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