Without Mandela

MandelaIn this September 2011 image by Adrian Steirn, former South African president Nelson Mandela’s face is reflected in a mirror. The portrait has been bought by a New York collector for $200,000. Proceeds will go to the Mandela Children’s Hospital, being built in Johannesburg. AP

When Cliff Rosen awoke on Friday to the news that Nelson Mandela had died, he went out to the field of sunflowers growing in his garden and cut down the tallest one.

"A special flower for a special man," Rosen, a 40-year-old urban farmer, said as he wired the towering, six-foot stalk to the fence surrounding the spontaneous memorial that has sprung up just outside the home where Mandela died Thursday night.

"I chose this flower because he towered over us all," Rosen said. "Today it feels like the world got a little bit smaller."

The man who led the emancipation of South Africa from white minority rule and served as his country's first black president, becoming an international emblem of dignity and forbearance, died at 8.50 pm local time. He was 95.

The South African president, Jacob G Zuma, announced Mandela's death. He will be buried according to his wishes in the village of Qunu, where he grew up.

In the government's first announcement of a schedule for ceremonies likely to draw vast numbers of world dignitaries and less exalted mourners, Zuma said on Friday that the former president's body would lie in state from December 11 to 13 after a memorial at the World Cup football stadium in Soweto on December 10, before a state funeral in Qunu on December 15.

At a service in Cape Town, Archbishop Desmond M Tutu, himself a towering figure in the struggle against apartheid that defined much of Mandela's life, said early on Friday: "Let us give him the gift of a South Africa united, one."

As flags flew at half-staff across the nation, a sense of loss, blended with memories of inspiration, spread from US President Barack Obama in Washington to members of the British royal family and on to those who saw Mandela as an exemplar of a broader struggle.

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