Week-Long Series of Memorials Begins for Mandela

World News

UN Photo/John Isaac(JOHANNESBURG) — Sunday was another day of prayer in South Africa for Nelson Mandela, with memorials continuing throughout the week before his funeral.

The nation is now preparing for Tuesday’s memorial service to honor the late South African president at the Johannesburg soccer stadium that hosted the 2010 World Cup. President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and close to 100 heads of state will be present at the service.

The stadium, on the edge of Soweto, holds 94,000 people and was the site of Mandela’s first speech in Johannesburg after his release from prison in 1990.

From Dec. 11 to Dec. 13, Mandela’s body will lie in state in Pretoria so that South Africans can pay their final respects.

Then, on Dec. 15, Mandela will be taken to his ancestral village of Qunu, where he’ll be buried alongside three of his children who are deceased.

“We should all work together to organize the most befitting funeral for this outstanding son of our country and the father of our nation,” South African President Jacob Zuma said in a public statement.

Meanwhile, Mandela’s family issued their first statement over the weekend since his death in Johannesburg last Thursday.

Through a spokesman, the family said that they are “humbled by the messages of condolences and support” received from governments and people all over the world.

Spokesman Lt. Gen. Themba Matanzima, a member of the Thembu clan to which the Mandelas belong, referred to the former South African president by his clan name, Madiba, saying that he “was not just a citizen of South Africa and the broader African continent, but a global citizen.”

“The pillar of the royal Mandela household is no more with us physically,” the Mandela family statement said, “but his spirit is still with us.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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