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Select guests invited to Mandela funeral

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Although tens of thousands attended Nelson Mandela's memorial ceremony a few days ago, the South African Government announced Fri. Dec. 13, the private funeral is by invitation only. A select group of approximately 4,500 individuals have been invited to the service which will be held in Qunu, Sunday, Dec. 15. This news saddened and enraged many local residents who planned on attending.

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One such invitee is U.S. civil rights activist, Reverend Jesse Jackson who arrived in Houghton to pay tribute at the Mandela Centre of Memory and to spend time with Mandela's family prior to the funeral. Photographer, Antonella Ragazzoni captured brilliant photos of his welcomed arrival.

Other welcome guests include: Mandela's family, South African President Jacob Zuma and Prince Charles. Government Spokesperson, Phumla Williams notified local residents that these rules are in compliance with the family's requests. She clarified their main purpose is to ensure safety and security. However, the funeral preparations included installation of cameras and big screens throughout town for residents to view the ceremony.

President Obama delivered a powerfully compelling speech on Tues., at the memorial ceremony of Nelson Mandela in honor of the icon's life. The presidents sentiments were authentic and moving as he referenced Mandela as "a giant of history who moved a nation towards justice."

Roberto Schmidt, photographer, captured great moments as the 90,000 seat stadium began to dance, chant, and sing in celebration of "Madiba's" fulfilled life. Tears were transformed to joy and laughter as his legacy was reviewed and honored. The joy was contagious as over 60 world leaders in attendance including four U.S. presidents and first ladies joined in on the African tradition with it similarities to the jubilee often witnessed in Louisiana Second Line parades. Instead of grief stricken faces and sob stories there was excitement, joy, and electrifying energy amongst the crowd.

In his blog, Schmidt remarks how refreshing it was to see these political world leaders in "human light," since their usual public sightings and interactions are typically in a controlled environment. Yet being immersed in the vibrant revelry common in African memorial ceremonies was a liberating experience for the leaders, affording them a moment of natural human actions.

Ciao Madiba!

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