President Ellen Johnson has departed the country for South Africa’s commercial capital, Johannesburg, to attend the state Memorial Service of the first black President of South Africa and global icon, Nelson Mandela, who passed away on December 5th, in his 95th year.
The Liberian leader is expected to join over 60 other heads of state and government and millions of sympathizers for the State Memorial Service of the late Apartheid icon, which will be held at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
President Mandela, who led the struggle against South Africa’s brutal apartheid regime, was jailed for 27 years, and emerged from prison to become South Africa’s first democratically elected President in 1994, stepping down after serving a single term.
On Wednesday, December 11, there will be the Lying-in-State for the official viewing of the mortal remains of the late Madiba, at the Union Buildings, in the capital, Pretoria.
The State Funeral will take place on Sunday, December 15, at Madiba’s ancestral village of Qunu, Eastern Cape, a 14-hour drive from Pretoria, to which the 80 to 100 heads of State expected are not obliged to attend as the village does not have the necessary facilities to accommodate everyone and their entourage.
Because of their many years of promoting human rights and democracy, both Dr. Amos Sawyer, Chairman of the Governance Commission, and Dr. Togba Nah-Tipoteh, a prominent Liberian politician, have been invited to play roles in commemorating the home-going of the former South African President.
Dr. Sawyer accompanied the President to South Africa, while Dr. Tipoteh will work, on the ground, with South Africa’s Ambassador to Liberia, H.E. Masilo Esau Mabeta, to organize activities commemorating Mandela’s life.
Dr. Tipoteh had accompanied the President to South Africa for Madiba’s 90th birthday celebration. Also on hand will be Liberia’s Ambassador to South Africa, Cllr. Lois Brutus.
President Sirleaf returns home on Friday, December 13. While she is away, the Minister of Finance, Mr. Amara Konneh, will chair the Cabinet in consultation with Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, Sr.
Meanwhile, a memorial service in honor of the late South African head of state will be held today at the Centennial pavilion in Monrovia.
The South African Embassy near Monrovia released the official state memorial protocol for the fallen icon and hero on Sunday December 8, 2013.
Mr. Mandela, the founding President of South Africans’ inclusive democratic nation, departed the world at around 20:50 GMT on the 5th of December. He was 95.
The South African Embassy said a memorial service will be held in honor of Mr. Mandela, at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion on Broad Street on Tuesday, December 10, beginning at some point between 1:00 p.m. and 2: 00.p.m.
The South Africans further announced that, at their Embassy opposite Sophie’s in Congo Town, the Book of Condolence has also been opened for Mr. Mandela, who President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf described as a “towering and inspiring world leader whose moral authority was unsurpassed.”