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Mandela’s memorial service,funeral expected to witness largest gathering of global leaders

The whole world is coming to South Africa,foreign ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela said.

Written by Agencies | Johannesburg |
December 9, 2013 2:42:57 pm

More than 70 world leaders from US President Barack Obama to Iran’s Hassan Rouhani are flying to South Africa for events commemorating Nelson Mandela this week,an unprecedented gathering that will hail one of humanity’s great peacemakers.

Mandela,South Africa’s first black president who steered his nation out of apartheid and into multi-race democracy,died late on Thursday after protracted illness.

“The whole world is coming to South Africa,” foreign ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela said,playing down concerns about organising logistics and security for such a large event with only five days notice following Mandela’s death.

Cuban leader Raul Castro,Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Britain’s David Cameron will also join what is set to be one of the biggest meetings of global dignitaries in recent history on Tuesday at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium,the foreign ministry said on Monday.

Meanwhile,the south Indian community joined thousands of people across communities in paying tribute to the late anti-apartheid icon.

People ahead of his funeral on December 15 descended on Madiba’s residence in the suburb of Houghton in Johannesburg on Sunday to honour the iconic leader.

The South African Tamil Federation (SATF) executives led by President Karthi Moothsamy put up a huge banner on the wall outside the residence where Mandela died on Thursday night.

Since his death,South Africa has been gripped by an outpouring of emotion unrivaled since Mandela’s release from 27 years in apartheid prisons in 1990,and his victory in the first all-race elections four years later.

Following Mandela’s death,millions took to social media to honour the legacy of anti-apartheid legend,with Twitter generating 7.2 million tweets.

That total surpasses some busy Twitter moments from this year. Users generated 7.2 million tweets about his death,including a peak of 95,000 tweets per minute,said the spokesperson.

On Facebook,the traffic was even higher. A total of 39 million people generated more than 80 million interactions related to Mandela’s death.

As to be expected,South Africa was the second most active country in terms of posts about its former president,following the US.

(With inputs from Reuters,PTI)

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