south africa, where the entire nation is mourning the death and celebrating the life of nelson mandela. A hero who spent nearly three decades of his life in prison. Dignitaries from around the world... See More
south africa, where the entire nation is mourning the death and celebrating the life of nelson mandela. A hero who spent nearly three decades of his life in prison. Dignitaries from around the world will be arriving to take part in his funeral. And byron pitts is in jo hons hansburg. Reporter: All day long here, a steady stream of humanity, as people have shown up, sometimes entire families. Here, we show their last respect for the man this entire nation so adored. As the world mourns the death of nelson mandela through song, dance and tears, details about his grand staged funeral are coming out. We all work together to organize the most befitting funeral. Reporter: Beginning tomorrow with a national day of prayer and reflection, for south africa. With an official service on tuesday in johannesburg, where thousands are expected to gather at the fnb stadium, the same stadium where mandela made his last appearance during the 2010 world cup. The services are expected to be the largest in generations, with prominent leaders and dignitaries across the globe attending. Including president obama and the first lady, who travel to south africa next week, to pay respects, bringing along president and mrs. George w. Bush. ♪ for three days, his body will lie in state in pretoria, the base of the south african government. There, the public will have an opportunity to view his casket. A week from sunday, he will be buried in his ancestral home in qunu. Overnight, desmond tutu led a prayer service in capetown, calling for his countrymen to carry on mandela's legacy. Let us reach out to one another. And let madiba's dream be our dream. Reporter: The mood here far more celebratory than sad, as people make the choice to embrace by what was given, instead of being sad by what was lost. Every day here in south africa, until mr. Mandela is finally laid to rest. A man who changed the world. Our ron claiborne has covered nelson mandela extensively throughout the years. Ron has had many experiences and memories. And is here with a personal take on the story. When you cover a story or a person, it requires professional detachment. We're supposed to stand back, observe and report. For nelson mandela, it was difficult for me personally, because something kept getting in the way. The fact that I admired the man deeply. The first time I sawelson mandela was at yankee stadium in 1990. Six months after he had been released from prison. I was in awe, probably we all were. But then he did something that charmed all of us. You now know who I am. I am a yankee. Reporter: As a college student, I read about this man serving a life sentence for fighting against apartheid. I was fired up by the slogan, free mandela. Years later, at abc, I traveled to south africa to embezzle his birthplace and qunu, where he you up as a small child. And where he will be buried alongside his parents. And earlier this year, I spent weeks in pretoria, outside his hospital, after waives of waives of south africans came singing and dancing, celebrating his life. Ironically, mandela's hospital room was not far from the courthouse where, in 1963, he and seven co-defendants were tried for attempting to overthrow the white rule government. The trial began in this courtroom in pretoria. There was no jury. A judge would decide the fate of the defendants. The maximum penalty, death by hanging. A few months ago, I sat down with mac maharaj, a close friend with mandela's, who spent years with him in prison. I read and people who know nelson mandela, to some degree, he felt burdened by being an icon. It ha has to be tough. He always felt that. And that is why he then finds he has to go an extra distance, not to disillusion you. Reporter: Mandela would often say, he was just a man, not a saint. But what a very special man. No, you did not disillusion us. I think what mandela was getting at when he said many times, I'm no saint. He didn't want to be seen as a kind of messiah. Someone to be idolized, but like a person. Someone who could be emulated. A model, not a myth. And hopefully, that will be his greatest legacy. Interesting to hear that was burdensome, too. It is. Ron, thanks. Great to see the story through your eyes, ron. Thank you.
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