It will be a gathering of power as the world prepares to send off Nelson Mandela.
Some 60 heads of state have confirmed their attendance at this week’s memorial events, including US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
They will be joined by former US Presidents George W Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and their wives. Prime Minister David Cameron will attend the main memorial service on Tuesday, while Prince Charles will represent Britain at Sunday’s state funeral. The leaders of France, Australia, Germany, Canada, Spain, Brazil and a host of other nations will also fly into the country.
A large structure used for ceremonies is built at Mr Mandela’s former home Celebrities, including Bono, Oprah Winfrey and Richard Branson are also expected to head to South Africa to pay their personal tributes to the man they considered a friend.
On Tuesday, the focus will shift back to Johannesburg where a huge memorial service is due to take place at the FNB Stadium, the scene of Nelson Mandela’s last public appearance ahead of the 2010 World Cup Final.
Some 80,000 people are expected to attend the event, including President Obama, his wife, Michelle, and other visiting dignitaries. From Wednesday, Mr Mandela’s body will “lie in state” Pretoria, at the Union Buildings where he governed as president between 1994 and 1999. A funeral cortege carrying the icon’s remains will pass through the capital daily until Friday, with South Africans being urged to line the streets to form a “guard of honour”.
The state funeral will take place in Mr Mandela’s ancestral homeland of Qunu in the Eastern Cape on Sunday. It is still not clear whether President Obama will still be in the country, but many other world leaders are expected to travel to the usually sleepy rural village to join Mr Mandela’s family, friends and former comrades in bidding farewell to the revered statesman as he makes his final journey home.