South Africa readied itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the funeral and memorial services for Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continued to flock to sites around the country Saturday to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon.
At Mandela's house in the Johannesburg neighborhood of Houghton, more than 100 people, black and white, gathered in the morning where they sang liberation songs and homages to Mandela. Children danced to the singing from the swaying crowd as hawkers nearby sold Mandela regalia.
From Harlem to Hollywood, Paris to Beijing, people have hailed Mandela's indomitable courage in the face of adversity as an inspiration for all. In a testament to his universal appeal, political leaders of various stripes have joined critics and activists in paying tribute to Mandela as a heroic force for peace and reconciliation.
President Barack Obama said the former South African president "no longer belongs to us - he belongs to the ages."
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who spent time with Mandela over the years, told "CBS This Morning" Friday that the former South African president taught him many life lessons.
"Humility. Have a purpose. Have a vision. Be prepared to sacrifice. Be prepared to listen to the other side." And, said Powell, "always be ready to change your mind, but never abandon your principals."
Rock star and humanitarian Bono, who worked for Mandela's causes for more than three decades, told Charlie Rose earlier this year that Mandela was a "genius of the high ground" with a "wicked sense of humor."
"(Mandela was) a great, great boss to have," Bono said. "If you're going to be told what to do, let it be Nelson Mandela."
In a church service Friday in Cape Town, retired archbishop Desmond Tutu and fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate said Mandela would want South Africans themselves to be his "memorial" by adhering to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied.
"All of us here in many ways amazed the world, a world that was expecting us to be devastated by a racial conflagration," Tutu said, recalling how Mandela helped unite South Africa as it dismantled apartheid, the cruel system of white minority rule, and prepared for all-race elections in 1994. In those elections, the anti-apartheid leader who spent 27 years in prison, became South Africa's first black president.
"God, thank you for the gift of Madiba," said Tutu in his closing his prayer, using Mandela's clan name.
Among those who have already indicated that they will be travelling to South Africa to honor Mandela, who died at his Johannesburg home at the age of 95 on Thursday night, are Obama and his two predecessors, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff will also be among the guests.
A week of mourning, with several events planned, has been declared by the government. Sunday has been declared a national day of prayer and reflection, while a national memorial service is scheduled to be held at a Johannesburg stadium where Mandela made his last public appearance for the closing ceremony of the 2010 soccer World Cup.
Official memorial services will also be held in all of South Africa's provinces and regions over the next week. Mandela's body will lie in state from Wednesday till Friday at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the capital.
The state funeral and burial for the Nobel peace prize laureate will be held in his rural hometown of Qunu in the Eastern Cape Province on Sunday Dec. 15.
The state airline, South African Airways, has laid on special charter flights to ferry invited dignitaries to the funeral.
The government has announced that a special sitting of the two houses of parliament - the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces - will be held on Monday to pay tribute to Mandela, the country's first black and democratically-elected president.
In Qunu in the wide-open spaces of the Eastern Cape province, relatives colsoled each other as they mourned the death of South Africa's most famous citizen.
Mandela was a "very human person" with a sense of humor who took interest in people around him, said F.W. de Klerk, South Africa's last apartheid-era president. The two men negotiated the end of apartheid, finding common cause in often tense circumstances, and shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
Summarizing Mandela's legacy, de Klerk paraphrased Mandela's own words on eNCA television: "Never and never again should there be in South Africa the suppression of anyone by another."
The liberation struggle icon's grandson, Mandla Mandela, said he is strengthened by the knowledge that his grandfather is finally at rest.
"All that I can do is thank God that I had a grandfather who loved and guided all of us in the family," Mandla Mandela said in a statement. "The best lesson that he taught all of us was the need for us to be prepared to be of service to our people."
"We in the family recognize that Madiba belongs not only to us but to the entire world. The messages we have received since last night have heartened and overwhelmed us," the grandson said.
Zelda la Grange, Mandela's personal assistant for almost two decades, said the elder statesman inspired people to forgive, reconcile, care, be selfless, tolerant, and to maintain dignity no matter what the circumstances.
"His legacy will not only live on in everything that has been named after him, the books, the images, the movies. It will live on in how we feel when we hear his name, the respect and love, the unity he inspired in us as a country, but particularly how we relate to one another," she said in a statement.
Helen Zille, leader of South Africa's official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, and premier of the Western Cape, the only province not controlled by the ANC, commented: "We all belong to the South African family - and we owe that sense of belonging to Madiba. That is his legacy. It is why there is an unparalleled outpouring of national grief at his passing. It is commensurate with the contribution he made to our country."
The ANC has postponed its national executive committee, scheduled for this weekend, following Mandela's death. Banks will close on the day of Mandela's funeral, said South Africa's banking association.
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