Mandela memorial one of largest in generations

2013-12-07 10:16

A young boy waits to place flowers outside the home of former president Nelson Mandela, in Houghto, Johannesburg. (Themba Hadebe, AP)

A young boy waits to place flowers outside the home of former president Nelson Mandela, in Houghto, Johannesburg. (Themba Hadebe, AP)

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Johannesburg - Nelson Mandela's memorial on Tuesday at Johannesburg's FNB Stadium promises to be one of the largest such gatherings in generations.

The White House says President Barack Obama will travel to South Africa next week to pay respects, but it didn't say whether he will attend the memorial or the smaller funeral on 15 December in Mandela's hometown.

If history is a guide, dozens of other presidents, prime ministers and royals are expected to pay their respects.

Here is a look at memorials in recent decades that drew the world's attention - and its leaders.

- Winston Churchill: His 1965 funeral was attended by "Four kings, two queens, presidents - including France's General Charles de Gaulle in uniform - prime ministers and statesmen from 113 nations," The Associated Press reported. Hundreds of thousands of people had paid tribute while his body lay in state three days, and thousands lined the route to the funeral service.

- Pope John Paul II: His 2005 funeral drew US President George W Bush and French President Jacques Chirac among "dignitaries from more than 80 countries, including the presidents of Syria and Iran, and the king of Jordan," the AP reported. "At least 300 000 people filled St. Peter's Square ... but millions of others watched on giant video screens set up across Rome."

- John F Kennedy: His 1963 funeral was attended by "28 presidents, prime ministers and kings." As his horse-drawn coffin moved through Washington, "streets were lined by hundreds of thousands of people, many of them weeping".

- Yitzhak Rabin: The 1995 funeral for the assassinated Israeli prime minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner was attended by President Bill Clinton and more than 40 other presidents or prime ministers, including some Arab ones. "It was a collection of heads of states that only three years ago would have been unimaginable," the AP reported.

- Princess Diana: While her 1997 funeral drew British Prime Minister Tony Blair, then-US first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and numerous foreign dignitaries, "organisers said they wanted to keep the number of politicians low to accommodate Diana's friends and people connected with charities she supported".

- Mao Zedong: While a million people attended a memorial rally in Beijing for the Chinese leader in 1976, the government that long had largely closed itself off from the world continued the practice that day. "No foreign dignitaries were invited to Peking for the rally," the AP reported.

- Anwar Sadat: Three former US presidents attended the Egyptian president's 1981 funeral, as well as about a dozen heads of state and Prince Charles and other royalty. Heads of state of other Arab countries largely did not come.

- Nelson Mandela: After the memorial service, Mandela's body then will lie in state in Pretoria for three days, and he will be buried during a state funeral in his rural hometown of Qunu on 15 December.

- Send us your memories and photos of Nelson Mandela.

- AP

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