TRAVERSE CITY — A 10-day official mourning period will come to an end Sunday, when South Africa’s former leader Nelson Mandela will be laid to rest following a state funeral in his ancestral village of Qunu.
The State Theater in downtown Traverse City will broadcast live coverage of the service, expected to begin about 4 a.m. local time, with burial to take place around 7 a.m. The theater will open its doors to the community at no charge beginning at 3 a.m. Sunday.
“Part of our mission is to be the town square of our community and to put live events on screen so that the community can come together and watch them,” said Deb Lake, executive director of the Traverse City Film Festival.
The State Theater previously welcomed the community to witness the final space shuttle launch, a Royal wedding and state football championships on the big screen.
“Nelson is a towering figure to the world and so we thought his funeral is something that people would want to share together,” she said.
Mandela, 95, leader of the movement to end South Africa’s apartheid system of racial discrimination and the nation’s first black president, died Dec. 5 after months of battling a recurring lung infection.
Leaders and dignitaries from more than 100 countries this week attended a memorial service for the former president in Johannesburg. Former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush attended along with President Obama, who eulogized Mandela as a “giant of history.”
After three days of lying in state in Pretoria, thousands of mourners are expected to line the streets Sunday as Mandela’s flag draped casket is transported by gun carriage from Mthatha Airport to the remote village where he will be buried at his family farm.
The Mandela family, South Africa’s current President Jacob Zuma as well as Former President Clinton and his family, Britain’s Prince Charles and Oprah Winfrey are among the guests who are expected to attend Sunday’s service.