9 December 2013
Countries around the world are joining South Africa in mourning and celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela, the Nobel Peace laureate and former president who died last week.
The South African government declared Sunday a national day of prayer and reflection and invited all South Africans, the continent and the world to join the country as it entered a 10-day mourning period.
The African Union Commission has opened a condolence book at the South African embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in Mandela’s honour. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the union’s chair, opened the signing on Sunday.
A condolence book was also opened at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa to allow union officials and staff to pay their respects to their hero. It has since been opened to the public.
Dlamini Zuma said in an interview with the BBC that Mandela’s story transcended the borders of South Africa: “He was a father with great qualities, humble, friendly, open and always ready to listen to others.”
The Ethiopian government joined the AU and the South African embassy in holding a memorial service on Sunday.
“As we celebrate his exceptional life … it is incumbent upon us to once again dedicate ourselves to the very ideals this great man stood for; justice, equality, freedom, democracy, unity and diversity and of course the renaissance of our mama Africa,” Hailemariam Desalegn, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, said.
The AU flag as well as flags of member states have been flown at half-mast at the AU premises since Friday.
- Visit the African Union website to find out more: www.au.int
Canada has also opened a book of condolences to which the public have been invited to contribute.
“Nelson Mandela was held in great esteem by Canadians. He was made an honorary Companion of the Order of Canada in 1998 and received honorary Canadian citizenship in 2001,” Canadian Heritage said in a statement on Friday.
- Visit the Canadian book at www.commemoration.gc.ca
Meanwhile, the head of the Tehran City Council said a street in the Iranian capital will be named after Mandela.
Ahmad Masjed-Jameie said the council will choose the street in Iran’s capital city and name it “Nelson Mandela” to remember the anti-apartheid icon, who had lived a life of long struggles against ignorance.
And the Indian-controlled Kashmir government has declared a five-day mourning period in honour of Mandela.
“As a mark of respect to Dr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the former president of South Africa, the state government has decided to observe state mourning from 6 to 10 December,” a government spokesperson said on Sunday. “The official flags will fly at half-mast on all buildings and places during this period and there will be no official entertainment.”