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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the funeral and memorial services for former president Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continue to flock to sites around the country to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon.
South Africa on Saturday began preparations to host US President Barack Obama and other world leaders eager to pay their respects to Nelson Mandela during 10 days of mourning for the anti-apartheid icon. On Friday President Jacob Zuma announced the mourning period for Mandela, the founding father of modern South Africa and its first black leader, after he died late Thursday aged 95, surrounded by friends and family. Obama, America's first black president, will travel to South Africa next week, the White House said, joining a raft of world leaders for a huge December 10 memorial service. Mandela's body will lie in state in Pretoria for three days before he receives a state burial on December 15 in his boyhood home of Qunu.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe paid tribute to Nelson Mandela on Saturday, describing the South African liberation icon as "a champion of the oppressed". "Mr Mandela's renowned political life will forever remain a beacon of excellence," Mugabe, Africa's oldest ruler at 89, said in his first official reaction, carried by the state-run newspaper The Herald. Mandela, the founding father of modern South Africa and its first black leader, died late Thursday aged 95. "The late Nelson Mandela will forever remain in our minds as an unflinching fighter for justice," said Mugabe, who early this year criticised Mandela for being too soft on whites after the end of apartheid.
Kalk Bay (South Africa) (AFP) - The sidewalk blackboard outside the pizza parlour in South Africa's quaint seaside village Kalk Bay, inhabited mainly by whites, changed for the first time in months on Friday. "RIP Tata Madiba", it read the day after the aged liberation leader's death, using Nelson Mandela's clan name and the affectionate "tata" (daddy). The other side carried a quote from Mandela encouraging people of different racial groups to love one another. This portrays the respect "new" South Africa's whites harbour for the revered statesman.