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Dignitaries descend on Qunu

Heads of state, royals & celebrities are arriving in the Eastern Cape ahead of Madiba’s funeral.

Preparations in Qunu underway where Nelson Mandela's funeral will be held on 15 December 2013. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Heads of state, royals and celebrities are flocking to the Qunu in the Eastern Cape today ahead of Nelson Mandela's state funeral.

Madiba will be buried in his hometown on Sunday. He died at his home Houghton last Thursday at the age of 95.

His body is currently travelling in procession from Mthatha Airport to Qunu, with a large number of Eastern Cape residents lining the route.

At least 26 heads of state, royals, eminent persons and foreign government representatives have so far confirmed their attendance.

Malawi President Joyce Banda will speak at the event while African Union (AU) chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and leaders from Tanzania, Ethiopia and Zambia are among the African dignitaries who will pay their respects

Royals on the list include Britain's Prince Charles, Monaco's Prince Albert and Princess Charlene, as well as King Letsie III of Lesotho.

Television personality Oprah Winfrey is one of the celebrities who will attend. Actor Forest Whitaker has tweeted that he has arrived in South Africa to pay tribute to Madiba, but it is unclear if he will be at the funeral.

Amid apparent confusion, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has cancelled his flight to the Eastern Cape saying he had no indication he had been invited to attend the funeral.

But government says Tutu had indeed been invited to the private ceremony, saying it's surprised Tutu will not be attending the proceedings as he was on the invitation list.

Full government-level & royal guest list:

  • African Union Commission Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

  • Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn

  • Ethiopian State Minister Getachew Reda Kahsay

  • Ethiopian State Minister Surafiel Mhreteab Abed

  • Former French prime minister Alain Juppe

  • Former French prime minister Lionel Jospin

  • Former Nigerian vice-president Abubakar Atiku

  • Former Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg

  • Former Tanzanian First Lady Maria Nyerere

  • Former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda

  • Head of the European Union in South Africa Roeland van der Geer.

  • Iranian Vice President Mohammad Shariatmadari

  • Lesotho Foreign Minister Mohlabi Kenneth Tsekoa

  • Lesotho's King Letsie III

  • Malawi President Joyce Banda

  • Malawian Foreign Minister Ephraim Mganda Chiume

  • Nicaraguan Vice President Omar Hallesleven Acevedo

  • Reverend Jessie Jackson

  • St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Denzil Douglas

  • St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Everard Gonsalves

  • Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard K Membe

  • Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete

  • Tanzania's CCM representative Vicky N Swai

  • The UK's Prince Charles

  • Zambian Foreign Minister Wilbur Simuusa

  • Zambian Vice President Guy Scott

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