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    South Africa Prepares for Mandela's Funeral, Mourning Continues

    People pay tribute, lay flowers outside house where former South African President Nelson Mandela resided, Johannesburg, Dec. 7, 2013.
    People pay tribute, lay flowers outside house where former South African President Nelson Mandela resided, Johannesburg, Dec. 7, 2013.
    VOA News
    South Africans are expected to assemble in churches, mosques and halls on Sunday for a national day of prayer and reflection honoring Nelson Mandela.
     
    The former president and anti-apartheid icon died on Thursday, following a lengthy illness. He was 95.
     
    Mandela family spokesman General Themba Matanzima said Saturday that the past few days had not been easy.
     
    "The pillar of the family is gone," he said. "Just as he was away during that painful 27 years of imprisonment. But in our hearts and souls he will always be with us. His spirit and yours."

    Mourners light candles for the late leader Nelson Mandela, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 6, 2013.Mourners light candles for the late leader Nelson Mandela, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 6, 2013.
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    Mourners light candles for the late leader Nelson Mandela, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 6, 2013.
    Mourners light candles for the late leader Nelson Mandela, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 6, 2013.
    Thousands of mourners have been flocking to sites around South Africa to pay homage to Mandela, an anti-apartheid icon.
     
    On Saturday, a large crowded gathered in Soweto township where people sang, danced and held up pictures of Mandela. He lived in the township when he was a young lawyer.

    Organizers say they expect about 9,000 people to attend a public state funeral on December 15, in Mandela's ancestral village of Qunu.

    • A young boy tried to squeeze his name onto a Mandela poster outside his home in Soweto, South Africa. (Hannah McNeish for VOA)
    • Messages of thanks and sadness are written on a giant poster outside Mandela's home in Soweto, South Africa. (Hannah McNeish for VOA)
    • Mandela fans leave tributes outside his former home in Houghton, South Africa. (Hannah McNeish for VOA)
    • Crowds sing and chant outside Mandela's Houghton home in South Africa. (Hannah McNeish for VOA)
    • Crowds sing and dance outside Mandela's former home in Soweto, South Africa. (Hannah McNeish for VOA)
    • Mandela fans pose outside his home in Soweto, South Africa. (Hannah McNeish for VOA)
    • Mandela posters in Soweto, South Africa. (Hannah McNeish for VOA)
    • Mandela merchandise is flying off street corners in Soweto, South Africa. (Hannah McNeish for VOA)
    • Nomalady Zondo says black South Africans are still not economically free and must fight for equal rights.(Hannah McNeish for VOA)
    • Thabo Tobedi fashioned earrings from keyrings to honor his hero Mandiba who he says was responsible for the social welfare still clothing and feeding many of the nation's black South Africans. (Hannah McNeish for VOA)
    • Tourists have been visiting or posing by Mandela's house in Soweto, South Africa. (Hannah McNeish for VOA)
    • Crowds gather in Soweto, South Africa. (Hannah McNeish for VOA)

    The official memorial service will be held on December 10 at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium — site of the 2010 World Cup final.

    A photo of former South African president, late Nelson Mandela, right, is displayed during a remembrance ceremony in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.A photo of former South African president, late Nelson Mandela, right, is displayed during a remembrance ceremony in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.
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    A photo of former South African president, late Nelson Mandela, right, is displayed during a remembrance ceremony in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.
    A photo of former South African president, late Nelson Mandela, right, is displayed during a remembrance ceremony in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.
    From December 11-13, Mandela's remains will lie in state at the Union Building in Pretoria and official memorial services will also be held in all provinces and regions.
     
    Scores of world leaders and celebrities are expected for the funeral and memorial services of South Africa's first black president, including U.S. President Barack Obama. Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are also expected to attend.

    Mandela spent 27 years in prison for his role in fighting to end white minority rule and official discrimination against blacks in South Africa.

    After his release, he became a symbol of peace and reconciliation and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. The following year, he became South Africa's first black president.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Paul Gesimba from: Nairobi Kenya
    December 09, 2013 1:32 AM
    Mandela Tata Madiba left a lasting legacy A new progressive Constitution and a booming thriving economy .His mantle should be carried forward by Cyril Ramaphosa a key architect of the new Constitution.

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