It will be the biggest event in the history of South Africa, the state funeral of Nelson Mandela. The country’s legendary former president is expected to be buried in his Rainbow Nation on December 15, reports The Guardian.
Reports state the icon’s funeral will take place in his home village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, reports BD Daily. Though no official decisions will be made until the government have consulted with Mandela’s family.
Here’s what you need to know about this iconic event:
1. Flags Will Be at Half Mast Until Madiba is Laid to Rest
A state funeral has been ordered by President Jacob Zuma. The leader of the Rainbow Nation said in a statement:
Our beloved Madiba will be accorded a state funeral. I order that all flags be lowered to half mast from tomorrow 6 December and to remain at half mast till after the funeral as we gather to pay our last respects.
The country will also enter a period of national mourning lasting until Mandela is laid to rest. During the mourning, Mandela’s body will be displayed in state.
2. The World’s Leaders Will Be on Show
This will be a diplomatic event to rival Pope John Paul II’s funeral. At Pope John Paul II funeral in 2005, more than 200 countries were represented by separate dignitaries.
Among the celebrities expected to attend Mandela’s funeral are Oprah Winfrey. Every living US president is expected to attend, reports The Guardian.
3. South African Logistics Will Be Put to the Test
The funeral will create a security nightmare for authorities with realistically every South African in the world wanting to attend. A diplomatic source told The Guardian: “He’s the hero of the planet. It’s going to be the biggest state funeral since Winston Churchill, and I think any country would struggle to organize that.”
4. There Has Been a Plan in Place For Some Time
His death “triggers” a set of protocols, reports BD Live.
The final decisions on Mandela’s funeral will be made by his widow, Graca Michel, and his daughters, Makaziwe and Zindzi Mandela, and Zenani Dlamini.
5. The Funeral Has Already Attracted Unwelcome Attention
— Westboro Baptist (@WBCSays) December 6, 2013
The Westboro Baptist Church have threatened to picket the funeral: