Desmond Tutu thanks God for 'gift of Madiba' as world mourns Nelson Mandela
Published Friday, December 6, 2013 6:41AM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 6, 2013 10:56PM EST
As the world mourns the death of Nelson Mandela, the South African government has released details of the state funeral for the anti-apartheid hero and former president.
President Jacob Zuma announced Friday morning that Mandela will be honoured with a memorial service to be held in Johannesburg's FNB Stadium on Dec. 10. It was in this same stadium that Mandela made his last public appearance during the 2010 World Cup, when he was greeted by deafening cheers.
Mandela's body will then lie in state in Pretoria from Dec. 11 until his burial on Dec. 15 at his rural home in Qunu, Zuma said.
This coming Sunday, Dec. 8, will be a national day of prayer and reflection for South Africa.
Zuma expressed gratitude for the "outpouring love" from around the world after the announcement of Mandela's death. "It demonstrates the calibre of a leader that Madiba was," he said, referring to Mandela by his traditional clan name.
He added that South Africans will always love Mandela for showing that it is possible to "overcome hatred and anger in order to build a new nation and a new society."
"We should all work together to organize the most befitting funeral for this outstanding son of our country and the father of our young nation," Zuma said.
Details of Mandela's funeral came as a crowd continued to grow outside Mandela's Johannesburg home. The group had started to form as news of his death spread late Thursday night, leaving flowers, candles, photos and notes for the man.
Across the country Friday, flags were lowered to half-staff, as South Africans paid tribute to Mandela with tears and prayers, but also song and dance.
On Friday, retired archbishop Desmond Tutu credited South Africans for not losing sight of Mandela's vision for a united, peaceful nation.
"Some have suggested that after he is gone, our country is going to go up in flames. This is, I think, to discredit us South Africans, to discredit his legacy," Tutu said.
"The sun will rise tomorrow, and the next day and the next. It may not appear as bright as yesterday, but life will carry on. As we enter the mourning period as a nation, we do so with the greatest dignity and respect, because that is what we owe to Madiba and to ourselves."
In his remarks, Tutu recalled Mandela's incredible capacity for forgiveness, demonstrated by his calls for reconciliation and unity as South Africa prepared for the end of apartheid and the first all-race elections in 1994. Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years, reached out to his political opponents following his release.
"We must think he went to prison an angry, relatively young man, and emerged as this incredible icon of magnanimity and compassion," Tutu said.
Earlier, Tutu closed a church service in Cape Town with a special prayer for Mandela. "God, thank you for the gift of Madiba," he said.
Mandela's grandson, Mandla Mandela, echoed this sentiment in a statement released Friday.
"All that I can do is thank God that I had a grandfather who loved and guided all of us in the family," he said. "The best lesson that he taught all of us was the need for us to be prepared to be of service to our people."
With files from The Associated Press