PM Harper views Mandela's body in Pretoria

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PRETORIA, South Africa – Prime Minister Stephen Harper and an entourage of Canadian dignitaries paid last respects Wednesday to former South African president Nelson Mandela in Pretoria.

Harper and three former prime ministers, as well as premiers and former governors-general, were among those who passed in front of the coffin where Mandela is lying in state for the next three days.

The coffin rests is in an amphitheatre which now bears the name of the anti-apartheid icon, who died last Thursday at the age of 95.

Mandela’s body will lay in state until the weekend when a state funeral will be held - the first state funeral ever held in modern South Africa.

In a frenzy of confusion that has marked events since Mandela’s death, no foreign media were allowed into the amphitheatre where the world leaders filed past the coffin.

The mood in Pretoria has turned somewhat sombre as the country mourns the loss of their Madiba. Still, throngs of people continue to celebrate in the streets for a live well lived.

Harper’s delegation includes his wife, three of his predecessors, four premiers, two former governors general and Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair.

Following the viewing, Harper announced new scholarships in Mandela’s memory to benefit both Canadian and African students.

The African scholarships are aimed at early career public sector professionals in Africa to study in such areas as governance, public policy and administration.

The program will consider candidates from across Africa for study in Canada for one to two years, with special consideration given to female students.

Harper said the scholarships will help Africans gain the required knowledge to help advance economic and social development in their home countries.

“Nelson Mandela believed that education, more than anything else, improved the chances of leading a better life,” said Harper.

The Dept. of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development will contribute up to $5 million over five years toward the scholarships, to be matched by the MasterCard Foundation.

The Canadian scholarships will be open to as many as 20 Canadians pursuing master’s or doctoral-level degrees in social sciences and humanities.

The studies will focus on national unity, democracy, freedom and human rights, which Harper said Mandela had ”championed so tirelessly during his remarkable life.”

Up to 10 master’s scholarships and up to 10 doctoral scholarships will be awarded for the first time in 2015, following a 2014 competition.

- by Terry Pedwell - The Canadian Press

Organizations: Harper.The Dept. of Foreign Affairs

Geographic location: Pretoria, Africa, South Africa.In Canada Pedwell

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Recent comments

  • macpass
    December 11, 2013 - 07:41

    Nelson Mandela was a great man and deserves to have representation from our country at his services but do we need to send 3 former PM's 2 or 3 GG's, Several Premiers, Senators and a host of other's along with Harpers security detail and support staff and don't forget the wives and friends all at the Candian Taxpayers expense. This man Harper has lost all reason when it comes to how our money is being spent. He cuts back all of the Veterans Affairs Offices as a cost cutting measure, slashes the UI, pays off Mike Duffy's bill and then he wastes tens of thousands of taxpayers money on a weeks vacation to South Africa. Harper should represent our country at this funeral but not everyone else that he thinks needs to go. From what I read the majority of them cannot even get into the funeral as there is not enough room for several bus loads of tax payer funded Canadian Tourists posing as politicans. How many of them do you think would go if they had to pay their own way??