Malawi President Joyce Banda on Monday landed in Johannesburg, South Africa to pay final respects to former President and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela.
The first South Africa’s democratically elected black president died last Thursday after a long battle with lung complications.
South Africa’s Foreign Affairs ministry has indicated 91 current heads of state and government have confirmed their attendance at one of the world’s most historical service.
The ministry further said 10 former heads of state and government, 86 heads of delegations and 75 eminent persons will attend the national service to be held at the FNB Stadium in Soweto expected to attract over 80,000 people.
All living American presidents and British Prime Ministers will be part of the crowd also studded with many African leaders and over 1,500 journalists have been cleared to cover the service.
Another 120, 000 people will watch the ceremony live on giant screens set up in three overflow stadiums in Johannesburg.
However, many working-class South Africans are reportedly angry at their government’s decision not to declare Tuesday a public holiday so that they could go and attend the ceremony.
President Banda said Africa had lost a great global leader and teacher who selflessly lived and gallantly fought to emancipate the people of South Africa and the entire humanity from all forms of oppression, injustice and racial segregation.
“What I learnt from his life is the ability to forgive even those who put him through so much pain,” she said.
Meanwhile, Malawians started a three-day of national remembrance Monday in respect of the former South African leader.
Government declared the national mourning over the weekend as the country joined the rest of the world in remembering the life of a well-decorated global icon.
In a media statement issued on Saturday, the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) said the declaration did not entail a public holiday.
The statement further said during the period, public entertainment activities such as football matches, dances and other jovial gatherings would be suspended while radio stations would be playing sombre music.
But Nyasa Times investigations revealed while most Malawians appeared to have been touched by the passing of the 95-year-old first democratically elected South African leader, government’s declaration had very inconsequential impact.
For instance, instead of playing sombre songs almost all the radio stations in the country went ahead with their normal schedules by playing assorted music while just throwing the toned-down ones here and there.
Entertainment activities such as music shows, football matches (including those for TNM Super League), boozing, among others, still went ahead despite government’s instruction to have them suspended.
However, Nyasa Times reporters’ visits to a number of government institutions in the showed flags flying at half-mast in solidarity with the Mandela family, the government and people of South Africa, and in respect of the fallen extraordinary son of Africa.
The flags are expected to remain as such until next Sunday, December 15, when his remains will be interred.
Before departing for South Africa, President Banda signed a condolence book for late Mandela at the South African High Commission in Lilongwe.
Mandela will be buried December 15, following a state funeral in his hometown of Qunu.
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