By Julian Borger, David Smith, and Harriet Sherwood
South Africa is set for a week of mourning after the death of Nelson Mandela, the most universally loved and revered leader in history, through a series of events to celebrate his life.
The president, Jacob Zuma, announced an extended schedule of activities, befitting Mandela’s status as South Africa’s most beloved son, starting with a day of prayer on Sunday and culminating in a state funeral expected to rival that of Pope John Paul II in 2005.
“We should all work together to organise the most befitting funeral for this outstanding son of our country and the father of our young nation,” said Zuma, anticipating the massive logistical challenge ahead.
The president announced a memorial service to be held at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg, the venue of the 2010 World Cup final, on Tuesday 10 December, which is expected to be broadcast around the world. Mandela’s body will then lie in state in Pretoria for three days, in a glass-topped coffin allowing well-wishers to pay their respects. A funeral will be held on 15 December, attended by world leaders including David Cameron, Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Mandela’s final resting place will be the modest village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape, a place where Mandela wrote in his memoir, Long Walk to Freedom, that he had spent “some of the happiest years of my boyhood”.
The strength and breadth of Mandela’s global appeal was reflected by the range of tributes from world leaders, piling up with every minute that passed after his death at home in Johannesburg at 8.50pm (18.50 GMT) on Thursday night.
Presidents and prime ministers, from Washington to Beijing, Havana to Delhi, from Jerusalem to the West Bank, all claimed to draw inspiration from the South African legend. Mandela set a benchmark for statesmanship against which all others have been measured.
It is not just the powerful who mourn his death. Many people, interviewed around the world, expressed their sense of loss, and in many places gathered to pay their respects.
An impromptu shrine sprang up in London’s Trafalgar Square as people left flowers outside the South African embassy, scenes of countless anti-apartheid protests during his long imprisonment.
In Kiev, where Ukrainians have gathered for anti-government demonstrations around the clock for the past week, protesters took a moment to recall Mandela’s legacy.