World focuses on Qunu

Nelson Mandela's funeral will be a unique blend of traditional rituals, state protocol and diplomatic customs.

The cortege transporting Nelson Mandela’s body arrives in Qunu  ahead of his 15 December funeral on 14 December 2013. Picture: AFP.

QUNU - The world's attention is focused on the small rural village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape where Nelson Mandela will be laid to rest this morning.

The global icon died at his Houghton home in northern Johannesburg on 5 December at the age of 95.

Since the news broke, the world has seen events on a massive scale held in honour of the first democratically elected president of South Africa.

But today is the final event and brings to a close 10 days of national mourning. (Click here for the official funeral programme)

Today's funeral will be attended by around 4,500 people, but Madiba's actual burial will be limited to 450 mourners.

The funeral will be a unique blend of state and diplomatic protocol and traditional Xhosa customs.

On Saturday, his body was transported by military aircraft from Waterkloof Air Force Base to Mthatha Airport after lying in state at the Union Buildings for three days.

From there, a procession travelled to the small village, with hundreds of people lining the route to pay their final respects.

Police are checking all vehicles heading towards Qunu on the N2 Highway this morning.

The road has been closed to general traffic and only accredited people will be let through.

Government officials are hoping that all guests and delegates will arrive on Mandela's property by 7am.

If all goes according to plan, the official funeral programme will start at 8am and end at 10am.

For the thousands who live in this area, several public viewing areas have been set up. It's the only opportunity for most Qunu residents to be part of the ceremony.

Meanwhile, dozens of dignitaries and high-profile guests have been arriving at Mthatha Airport since yesterday morning among them, are heads of state, former presidents and members of the royal family.

President Jacob Zuma arrived a short while ago along with his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe.

A large convoy of blue light vehicles then escorted them to Qunu under military guard.

Journalists and the South African Defence Force are now awaiting the arrival of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and the King of Lesotho.

Some of the prominent people that have arrived here in the last few hours include television personality Oprah Winfrey, Hollywood actor Forest Whitaker, Malawian President Joyce Banda, Britain's Prince Charles and Monaco's Prince Albert.


All guests and delegates have been asked to be at the main marquee on the family farm in Qunu by 7am.

A park and ride shuttle service for people accredited to attend the funeral will start from the Walter Sisulu University Zamukulungisa Campus at 5am.

Guests must use this shuttle service, as no vehicles whatsoever will be admitted to the Qunu area.

The main funeral programme starts at 8am and ends at 10am.

At 10am, close family members and few invited delegates of the family move to the burial site.

The rest of the guests will remain in the marquee.

The burial ceremony will end at 12pm.

Buses for guests and delegates will depart to East London airport from 4pm.


  • When travelling to Mthatha from Kokstad/Durban, at the N2 Tsolo Junction traffic will be diverted to the R396 to Maclear.

  • In Mthatha at the Shell Ultra City, traffic will be diverted to the R61.

  • When travelling from East London to Mthatha, traffic on the N2 at Ndabakazi will be diverted to Tsomo onto the R61.

  • Traffic at Idutywa on the N2 will be diverted to Engcobo on to the R61.

  • Mthatha is still accessible via the R61, but commuters are advised not to travel to Mthatha unless absolutely necessary.

  • Park and ride facilities are available at Walter Sisulu University until Tuesday 17 December 2013.

  • No vehicles whatsoever will be allowed into the area around Qunu Village.


  • 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