How Johannesburg readied for Mandela funeral

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After the shock of the announcement of his death, South Africa is gearing up for the ceremonies for Nelson Mandela.

A week’s mourning has begun in which there are few discordant voices, and which has already been marked by a flood of tributes from around the planet.

Euronews’ François Chignac was in Johannesburg on the day parliament paid tribute to the man. He told us more about this special session dedicated to Mandela’s memory.

François Chignac: “Both chambers have come together in Cape Town to pay homage to the country’s first black president, and despite Mandela’s global stature, the feeling here is this is a South African occasion, and – politics aside – everyone, South Africans, Pakistanis, Indians, blacks, whites, or Zimbabweans can take part.

“The parliamentary session was held in the Regina Mundi, the main church in Soweto in southwest Johannesburg. Hundreds of people turned out to honour Madiba.”

Sophie Desjardin, euronews: “So to return to politics for a moment and the parliamentary session, was there real unanimity there about the man who devoted his life to reconciliation, or was it feigned?”

François Chignac: “There was real unanimity. It is not a time for division. I think that will appear in next year’s elections. The ANC has been heavily criticised, and may suffer at the polls, especially at the hands of the young and first-time voters who never knew apartheid, and who think the ANC has been corrupted by power.”

Sophie Desjardin, euronews: “More than 90 heads of state are due in Johannesburg for the official funeral, ahead of Mandela’s burial in his childhood village on Sunday. How do they feel there?”

François Chignac: “People are very proud to be welcoming heads of state to the vast 90,000-seat Soccer City. Everyone will be there. Roads around the stadium have already been blocked off. The stadium itself is built like a giant calabash vegetable, the sort that hollowed-out make musical instruments. South Africans hope it will be a suitable venue for a harmonious, dignified final salute. It is going to be a huge event for the nation.”

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