Mandela funeral one of biggest gatherings of heads of states

With more than 70 heads of state confirmed to arrive in South Africa this week to attend the memorial service and funeral of the late Nelson Mandela, the former president's funeral could surpass in numbers what was considered to have been the biggest gathering of heads of state outside of the United Nations – the funeral of Pope John Paul II. 

Held on April 8 2005, John Paul's funeral brought together at least 70 heads of state, 14 leaders of other religions, four kings and five queens. Over four million people lined the streets of Rome to mourn the leader of the Catholic Church. 

On Sunday, the department of international relations and co-operation (Dirco)? confirmed that 70 sitting heads of state will attend either the memorial service or the funeral of Mandela. The event will see former leaders sitting alongside their countries' incumbent leaders. 


Embassies open
All 126 embassies were open on Sunday to process the visas of international guests, Dirco said at the weekend

Among the confirmed heads of state, according to Dirco, are US President Barack Obama and three former presidents of that country. French President François Hollande? and his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, as well as the leaders of Venezuela, Spain and Singapore are among the confirmed.

Prince Charles will reportedly represent Buckingham Palace at the funeral.?

By Sunday, 13 African heads of state had confirmed their attendance. 

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace; Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama and Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan, have confirmed their attendance. 

Minister of International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Sunday the fact that international leaders were making their way to South Africa at such short notice "reflects the special place [former] president Mandela holds in the hearts of people around the globe".

She said the country was "touched" by the mourning periods declared by other countries.

'Periods of mourning'
"We are touched by the fact that many countries have declared periods of mourning, ordered that flags be flown at half-mast and draped or lit landmarks in the colours of the South African flag. We truly appreciate these gestures," she said.

"We appreciate the willingness showed by a broad range of eminent persons to come to South Africa to join us personally at this time of mourning, reflection and celebration of Nelson Mandela's life and legacy.

"International and regional organisations from the United Nations and European Commission to the African Union, for example, have also confirmed attendance," she said. 

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: Marcia Mayaba —Driven to open doors for women

Marcia Mayaba has been in the motor industry for 24 years, donning hats that include receptionist, driver, fuel attendant, dealer principal and now chief...

The war on women in video game culture

Women and girls make up almost half of the gaming community but are hardly represented and face abuse in the industry

More top stories

The battle for 2050 energy dominance: Nuclear industry makes its...

Nuclear sector says it should be poised to take up more than 50% of the 24GW left vacant by coal

#SayHerName: The faces of South Africa’s femicide epidemic

This is an ode to the women whose names made it into news outlets from 2018 to 2020. It’s also a tribute to the faceless, nameless women whose stories remain untold.

Judges Rammaka Mathopo and Mahube Molemela among five candidates for...

Judges Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane, Jody Kollapen and Bashier Vally complete the list, while Dhaya Pillay fails to make the cut

First sanitary pad vending machine in Africa aims to end...

A new invention by the MENstruation Foundation addresses the difficulty many schoolgirls face every month — not being able to afford sanitary products
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…