Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Nelson Mandela funeral: What to expect as global icon is laid to rest

By Laura Smith-Spark and Robyn Curnow, CNN
December 14, 2013 -- Updated 1451 GMT (2251 HKT)
The hearse carrying former South African President Nelson Mandela leaves the Union Buildings after the final day of his lying in state in Pretoria, South Africa, on Friday, December 13. The hearse carrying former South African President Nelson Mandela leaves the Union Buildings after the final day of his lying in state in Pretoria, South Africa, on Friday, December 13.
HIDE CAPTION
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
Nelson Mandela memorial service
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Mandela's body reaches the village of Qunu, in South Africa's Eastern Cape province
  • ANC leaders, local chiefs and the men in Mandela's family will hold a private vigil
  • About 4,500 people will attend the funeral Sunday on the family farm
  • The funeral service will be followed by a smaller burial ceremony

Qunu, South Africa (CNN) -- Ten days of mourning for South Africa's anti-apartheid icon and former leader Nelson Mandela will come to an end Sunday with his state funeral.

After Tuesday's vibrant, if rain-drenched, memorial service, followed by three days of public viewing of the former president's casket in Pretoria, the burial will be a slightly more private affair.

About 100,000 people have paid homage to Mandela in those three days, including 50,000 who came to pay their respects Friday, the South African government said.

Here is how CNN expects events to unfold, based on information from the government and sources involved in planning for the funeral -- although plans may change because of weather, security and other factors.

Return to the Eastern Cape

Amanpour joins crowd mourning Mandela
South Africans mourn, celebrate Mandela
Mandela remembered: Obama's full speech

A military plane carrying Mandela's body flew Saturday from an air force base in Pretoria to South Africa's Eastern Cape province, where Mandela's ancestral village of Qunu lies. The family farm there will be his final resting place.

President Jacob Zuma and other members of South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress, gathered to bid Mandela farewell from the air force base. "We will miss him. He was our leader in a special time," said Zuma. Mandela's casket, draped in the national flag, was carried by soldiers to the plane.

Thousands of mourners lined the streets from Mthatha Airport, the closest to Qunu, as Mandela's remains were transported to the remote village where he spent much of his childhood.

Traditional ceremony and vigil

Once at Mandela's house in Qunu, the military was expected formally to pass responsibility for his remains to his family.

The South African flag draped over the coffin will be replaced with a tribal symbol of the Xhosa people, symbolizing the return of one of their own.

At dusk, ANC leaders, local chiefs and the men in Mandela's family are expected to gather for a private night vigil, held according to the traditions of the Thembu community, his native clan, before a public funeral the next day. Villagers may gather outside the house to pay their respects.

The coffin will lie in Mandela's bedroom overnight. The room overlooks the hills around Qunu and his grave site.

Who's attending

Foreign leaders were encouraged to attend Tuesday's memorial service in Johannesburg. Nonetheless, dozens of international dignitaries are expected to make their way to the Eastern Cape for Mandela's funeral.

The airport in East London, south of Qunu, will be used for their arrival and departure, with access closely controlled.

Notable figures thought to be on the guest list include Britain's Prince Charles, TV talk-show host Oprah Winfrey and U.S. civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

There's no doubting the global media interest. More than 4,000 journalists had been accredited as of Friday morning, with more expected, a government spokeswoman said. However, only the national broadcaster will be given access to the funeral, with other journalists in Qunu to be based at the Nelson Mandela Museum.

The event will be broadcast to an audience of millions around the world.

The funeral

A private family prayer service will be held Sunday morning at Mandela's home. The funeral will then be held in a huge white tent set up at the family farm.

The Mandela family, President Zuma and Cabinet members will be present as well as local and foreign dignitaries. About 4,500 people are expected.

The military will again be charged with draping Mandela's coffin with the flag. Members of the military will perform a salute, and the national anthem will be played.

The burial

A group of family and close friends, expected to number about 430, will walk up to the grave site to bid a final farewell to the man many saw as the father of their nation.

About 2 p.m. -- when the summer sun is high in the sky -- Mandela will be laid to rest in the rocky soil of his childhood home.

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 of cattle and bright orange aloe plants.

The aloes are indigenous succulents that are hardy, drought-resistant, medicinal plants that bloom across the bushveld when all else is dry and dull. They can be seen as 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.

Security

With so many high-profile guests in South Africa for Mandela's state funeral, security has been a key concern.

Zuma has authorized nearly 12,000 members of the South African National Defence Force to serve alongside the police force "to maintain law and order" during the funeral period, the presidency said. They are employed for 15 days, from December 6 to December 20.

A tight military cordon is expected around the funeral site to assuage security fears.

CNN's Robyn Curnow reported from inside the Mandela compound in Qunu, and Laura Smith-Spark wrote and reported in London.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 1728 GMT (0128 HKT)
Candles are lit under a portrait of Neslon Mandela before the funeral ceremony of South African former president Nelson Mandela in Qunu on December 15, 2013.
As 95 candles glowed in the background, mourners gathered for Nelson Mandela's state funeral Sunday.
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 1136 GMT (1936 HKT)
One candle burns for each year of Nelson Mandela's life, as family, friends, dignitaries and celebrities gather in his ancestral home, Qunu.
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 1036 GMT (1836 HKT)
CNN's Robyn Curnow is inside the Mandela family compound in Qunu as the state funeral service is ongoing.
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
Don't expect the man who fought to end apartheid and then led South Africa as its first black president to spend eternity pushing up just daisies.
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 0350 GMT (1150 HKT)
Not only is Nelson Mandela the former president of South Africa, but he is also a father, grandfather and even a great-grandfather.
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 0413 GMT (1213 HKT)
Nelson Mandela once said his wife, Graca Machel, makes him "bloom like a flower."
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 0849 GMT (1649 HKT)
South African pays tribute and thanks Nelson Mandela at the former leader's funeral in Qunu.
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 0845 GMT (1645 HKT)
South African President Jacob Zuma sings at the funeral of Nelson Mandela.
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 0725 GMT (1525 HKT)
Anti-apartheid veteran Ahmed Kathrada spent 26 years imprisoned with his close friend and confidant Nelson Mandela.
December 15, 2013 -- Updated 0408 GMT (1208 HKT)
The coffin carrying Nelson Mandela's body arrived Saturday in his ancestral village of Qunu, where he'll be buried.
December 14, 2013 -- Updated 2128 GMT (0528 HKT)
Crowds gather as Nelson Mandela's funeral convoy arrives at Mthatha Airport in South Africa's Eastern Cape.
December 13, 2013 -- Updated 1932 GMT (0332 HKT)
Beloved icon Nelson Mandela will be laid to rest on the farm where he grew up. CNN's Robyn Curnow gives an inside look.
December 13, 2013 -- Updated 1644 GMT (0044 HKT)
It might be timely to put aside out-of-date and ill-informed views of Africa, and see it the way Africans seem to: With a high level of optimism.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 0440 GMT (1240 HKT)
Mandela emerged from prison to lead his country out of racist apartheid rule with a message of reconciliation that inspired the world.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
The late South African President reflects on his imprisonment and his fight against apartheid.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 1457 GMT (2257 HKT)
Nelson Mandela, hailed for leading South Africa out of apartheid, wanted to be remembered as part of a collective and not in isolation.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Nelson Mandela
From revolutionary to revered statesman, Nelson Mandela left his inspirational mark on the world.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 2324 GMT (0724 HKT)
The only known footage of Nelson Mandela while at Robben Prison shows inside his cell and the former president in 1977.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1745 GMT (0145 HKT)
Mandela spent almost three decades in jail. But he had two Indian goddesses and a 17th century playwright for company.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1252 GMT (2052 HKT)
He was loved and admired the world over, profiled in books and movies. But even he has little-known facts buried in his biographies.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 2300 GMT (0700 HKT)
A file photo showing South African Nelson Mandela taking the presidential oath on May 10, 1994 during his inauguration at the Union Building in Pretoria.
April 27, 1994, was the crowning moment in Nelson Mandela's life -- the day South Africa held its first elections open to citizens of every race.
From a village birth, to political activism, to prison and emergence as a worldwide leader.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 2340 GMT (0740 HKT)
"No one is born hating another person ..." and more from Nelson Mandela in his own words
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1347 GMT (2147 HKT)
South African former President Nelson Mandela holds the Jules Rimet World cup, 15 May 2004 at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich.
"Sport has the power to change the world," Nelson Mandela once said -- and eloquently supported his claim.
June 27, 2013 -- Updated 0148 GMT (0948 HKT)
Browse through intimate images of Nelson Mandela, including the earliest known photograph believed to be taken in 1938.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1326 GMT (2126 HKT)
The Special AKA's "Free Nelson Mandela" became anti-apartheid anthem, and led to Mandela's release from prison after 27 years.
How will you remember Mandela? Send us your stories, memories and photographs.
ADVERTISEMENT