Mandela Lies in State and a Rainbow Nation Pays Its Respects


Nelson Mandela, first President of a free South Africa, last of the great African liberators and an icon to all humanity, looks beautiful in death. He lies in a wooden casket with a glass cover over his face on the highest point in his nation’s capital, his feet to the dawn, his head to the sunset. “It seems as if he is still alive,” says Charlotte Madisha, 36. “It seems like he’s just sleeping.”

Mandela’s coffin is shielded from the sun by a giant white and wood open-sided box, hung in white, carpeted in red and lit with soft white lights. At each corner of the coffin are four stern South African sailors in navy whites. On each side is a line of slowly processing mourners. Today, the second day of Mandela’s lying in state, it stretches out of South Africa’s seat of government, the Union Buildings…

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