Nelson Mandela's funeral plans - a day by day breakdown
Posted in the Minneapolis Forum
#1 Dec 7, 2013
Day one should start with rioting in the streets.
Day 1 to Day 4
Mandela passed away at 8.50 p.m. Thursday (1.50 p.m. ET), surrounded by his family, South African President Jacob Zuma said. CNN understands that during his final hours, Mandela would have also been surrounded by Thembu elders. Importantly, at some stage - either at his home or in the mortuary - the traditional leaders will gather for a first ceremony, a tradition called "the closing of the eyes."
Throughout the ceremony, they'll be talking to Mandela, as well as to his tribal ancestors, to explain what's happening at each and every stage to ease the transition from life to beyond.
After the ceremony, it's believed Mandela's body will be embalmed at the mortuary, which is understood to be a military hospital in Pretoria.
Day 6 to 8
According to sources, Mandela's body will then lie in state for three days at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the seat of power of the South African government.
The first day will be reserved for dignitaries. The public will be allowed to file past his casket on days 7 and 8. Viewing hours are expected to be limited to daylight. Long lines will likely form from the very early hours of the morning.
It was at the historic Union Buildings that Mandela was inaugurated as president on May 10, 1994. On that extraordinary day, crowds converged around the building to witness history being made. That day, a former political prisoner achieved what was once unthinkable and became South Africa's first post-apartheid black leader.
Nine days after Mandela's death, a military aircraft will leave a Pretoria airbase and fly south to Mthatha, the main town in the South African province of Eastern Cape.
Thembu elders and members of the Mandela family make the journey with Mandela's casket.
Thousands of mourners are expected to line the streets from Mthatha airport to watch as the military transports Mandela's casket on a gun carriage to the remote village of Qunu, where the former leader spent his childhood years.
Along the way the procession is expected to pause for prayers to allow ordinary South Africans to pay their respects.
Once at Mandela's house, the military will formally pass responsibility for his remains to his family.
The South African flag that is expected to be draped over the coffin will be replaced with a traditional Xhosa blanket, symbolizing the return of one of their own.
At dusk, ANC leaders, local chiefs and Mandela's family are expected to gather for a private night vigil before a very public funeral the next day.
The funeral and burial will be on the grounds of Mandela's Qunu home. It's expected that thousands of people, including dozens of heads of state, will gather for the state funeral. The funeral will take place under a large tent nestled in the hills where Mandela ran and played as a child.
A tight military cordon is expected, in an attempt to assuage security fears. The event will be broadcast to an audience of millions around the world.
At midday - when the summer sun is high in the sky - Mandela will be buried into the rocky soil of his homeland. Only a few hundred close family members will bid that final farewell to Mandela as he is laid to rest.
The burial area has been especially built for him; some of Mandela's long deceased family members are already buried at the site.
It will be, according to custom, a homecoming.
His grave site is surrounded by rocky outcrops, hardy grass used for the grazing cattle and bright orange aloe plants.
The aloes are indigenous succulents which are hardy, drought-resistant, medicinal plants that bloom across the bushveld when all else is dry and dull. A symbolic floral gesture to a man whose life was filled with sacrifice and tragedy but who triumphed with a tenacity of spirit and hope in even the darkest of days.
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