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Nelson Mandela's funeral on December 15; India to send high-level delegation

PTI | December 06, 2013, 20.12 pm IST
A girl picks up a poster showing the face of Nelson Mandela after it fell to the ground, as she and others celebrate his life, in the street outside his old house in Soweto, Johannesburg. -AP
A girl picks up a poster showing the face of Nelson Mandela after it fell to the ground, as she and others celebrate his life, in the street outside his old house in Soweto, Johannesburg. -AP

Pretoria: The body of South Africa's anti- apartheid legend Nelson Mandela was taken to a military hospital here on Friday as preparations for the December 15 state funeral of the peace icon began.

Mandela, South Africa's liberation hero and the first democratically elected president, died early on Friday at his home in Johannesburg after battling a protracted illness.

Escorted by military motorcycle outriders, a black SUV carried Mandela's coffin, draped in South Africa's flag, to the military hospital's morgue from his home.

Mandela will lie in state at the seat of government, the Union Buildings, in the capital city of Pretoria.

Read here: Mandela's strong Indian connections

In a television address to the nation, South African President Jacob Zuma said Mandela would be laid to rest on December 15 at Qunu in Eastern Cape province.

Funeral will draw a galaxy of leaders and other dignitaries from across the world.

Zuma, who earlier announced the demise of the 95-year-old Nobel laureate, ordered that all flags of the country fly at half-mast and remain that way until after the burial ceremony, the South African Government News Agency reported.

Read on: What makes Nelson Mandela so special?

Mandela almost three months in hospital this year after being admitted to the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in June with a recurring lung infection.

He was discharged in September and was receiving home-based medical care.

India to send high-level delegation to Mandela's funeral

New Delhi: India will be represented by a 'high-level' delegation at the funeral of South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela who died early morning in Johannesburg, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Friday.

"Both Prime Minister and President have indicated the reverence that we in India hold Nelson Mandela in. His death is not only a loss for South Africa but for Indiaand the world too. It is certain that a very high-level delegation will go from India," spokesperson in MEA said.

"There is still some time between the funeral is officially held and visiting dignitaries are being asked to attend that...Our High Commission is in touch with South African government (on the issue)...," he added.

The anti-apartheid icon served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 and was recipient of the Bharat Ratna,India's highest civilian award and a well-known Gandhian.

In his condolence message, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described his as a "giant among men" who not only represented the conscience of the world, but also remained a beacon of hope for those struggling against oppression and injustice long after he had led his own people to victory over such ills." 

Next: Nelson Mandela had six names

Nelson Mandela had six names

Johannesburg: Though the world knew him as Nelson Mandela, South Africa's anti-apartheid hero had five other names, including "Tata".

Some of the monikers date from his childhood, while others reflect the respect bestowed on the 95-year-old the country's first black president.

At birth he was given the name Rolihlahla Mandela by his father, Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Henry, according to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

In Xhosa, one of the official languages of South Africa, "Rolihlahla" means "pulling the branch of a tree." More commonly, it is said to mean "troublemaker."

The name "Nelson" first made an appearance when the young Mandela was at primary school. This name was given to him by his teacher on the first day of school in the village of Qunu. But it is unclear why she chose that particular name, CNN reported.

It was the early 1920s and, at that time, it was customary to give African children English names to make them easier for British colonials to pronounce, the report said.

In South Africa, Mandela is most commonly referred to as Madiba, the name of the Thembu clan to which he belongs.

Madiba was the name of a Thembu chief who, in the 19th century, ruled over a region called the Transkei in the country's southeast.

Referring to Mandela as Madiba is a sign of endearment and respect, according to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Mandela is also referred to by many as simply "Tata," the Xhosa word for "father."

The Xhosa language also offers another term of endearment for Mandela. "Khulu" is the shortened word for "uBawomkhulu," which means "grandfather." The word also means "great, paramount, grand," the Foundation said.

At the age of 16, Mandela, like other Xhosa boys, was formally initiated into manhood through a traditional Xhosa ceremony. At the time, he was given the name of Dalibhunga, which means "creator or founder of the council" or "convenor of the dialogue," the Foundation said.

Mandela died at his home here on Friday after a protracted illness. 

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