The world pays tribute to Mandela (slideshow)
As South Africans come to terms with the loss of former president Nelson Mandela, the rest of the world bids farewell to Madiba.
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Mandela: SA's greatest son laid to rest (slideshow)
The world watched as Nelson Mandela was finally laid to rest in his hometown of Qunu following a dignified and moving funeral ceremony on Sunday.
South Africa's living legend Nelson Mandela turns 85 on Friday and organisers are planning to give the elderly statesman a three-day birthday bash which will see the world's stars converge on Johannesburg.
Plans to celebrate the birthday of Madiba (his Xhosa clan name, used affectionately by South Africans) started 16 months ago, and will culminate in a banquet on Saturday night in the plush northern suburbs of Johannesburg.
"The evening will not only pay tribute to Madiba, but celebrate his life, his spirit of reconciliation and will bring together people of all walks of life," his office said in a statement.
It added: "Royalty, presidents, diplomats, South African and Hollywood stars, politicians, friends and former opponents, as well as his staff such as his cook and gardener (will attend)."
Organisers remain secretive about the guest list. They even threatened legal action against service providers for the party should any of the names on the 1 600 guests be leaked to the media.
But the Johannesburg-based 'Saturday Star' reported over the weekend that pop superstar Michael Jackson, actress and Broadway belle Barbara Streisand and R and B singer Beyonce Knowles of the group Destiny's Child were among those expected to take to the stage in Saturday night Mandela fever.
In the run-up to the party, South Africa's cable channel M-Net, as well as public broadcaster SABC, will air a series of interviews, depicting a relaxed Mandela in his home surroundings.
Global television music channel MTV, will screen an hour-long Mandela special Thursday from his Johannesburg home at 1600 GMT.
That will focus on Mandela's humanitarian work and mark the launch of the 2003 Staying Alive HIV/Aids campaign.
Earlier in the day, celebrations will officially kick-off with a surprise "special gift" to be handed over at his house, but again organisers remained tight-lipped.
"No further details would be provided prior to the event itself as the creators of this project would like to surprise Mr Mandela," their statement said.
Mandela will spend his birthday on Friday with his family including his more than 30 grand and great-grandchildren -- his only engagements are to listen to the South Africa's Air Force band playing Happy Birthday, followed by a visit from disabled
children and South Africa's national rugby union team, the Springboks.
"No additional official or formal events are arranged and Mr Mandela will spend the rest of his birthday with his family," organisers said.
On Saturday morning, former US President Bill Clinton, a long-time friend of Mandela will deliver the inaugural annual Nelson Mandela Lecture, where distinguished guests will in future talk about challenges facing the world such as poverty, the environment, democracy and leadership.
That will be followed by Saturday night's party of the stars, and the opening of the new 284-metre-long Nelson Mandela cable-suspension bridge in the heart of Johannesburg on Sunday morning. - Sapa-AFP