Former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, will tomorrow have his remains committed to mother earth at his ancestral home in Qunu – 700 km south of Johannesburg.
The week of mourning of Mandela who died on December 5, came to an end Friday evening lying in state in Pretoria.
The body remained in Pretoria overnight, and a ceremony was fixed for a local air force base on Saturday morning to allow members of the governing African National Congress to say a last farewell.
The coffin will then be flown to the Eastern Cape ahead of the burial tomorrow at Mandela’s ancestral home in Qunu.
World leaders who came en masse for Tuesday’s mass memorial in Johannesburg were discouraged from attending Sunday’s state funeral at Qunu, which will be a smaller affair focusing on the family. However, dignitaries, including Britain’s Prince Charles and a small group of African and Caribbean leaders, will also attend.
Lt-Gen Xolani Mabangu, from the defence force, said chief mourners among the Madiba clan and Mandela family, as well as senior government officials, would accompany the body as it travels from Pretoria to the Eastern Cape.
“A military guard of honour will welcome the arrival in Mthatha and the coffin will be placed on a gun carriage and transported to a hearse,” Said Mabangu.
Local people will form a ‘human chain’ between Mthatha and Qunu as the procession passes. Once in Qunu, the Thembu community will conduct a traditional ceremony.
It is not clear whether the Thembu monarch, King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo will be attending the funeral. According to custom, he should play a central role in the rituals.
But the king appears to be unhappy about some aspects of protocol and government ministers and Mandela family members have been meeting him to urgently convince him to be there, reports the BBC.
Tomorrow’s funeral will mark the end of a period of commemorations in South Africa since the 95-year-old’s death on 5 December.