World leaders from across the globe, including the Dalai Lama and Oprah Winfrey, are among those expected to attend Mandela’s funeral service on Sunday December 15 in South Africa.
As South Africans publicly expressed their sorrow and joy for a life well-lived, Indigenous leaders spoke of the legacy he left behind here in Australia.
“Yes we’ve had freedom fighters, yes we’ve had leaders, but because he became president of a country there was so much more light being shed,” said senator Nova Peris.
But in 1990, some Indigenous people protested during his visit to Australia. They were disappointed that he didn't lobby for the rights of Indigenous people who were also subjected to segregation at the same time as Black South Africans.
“Nelson Mandela was rightly, quite rightly, welcomed into the parliament by the prime minister on the red carpet, but other Aborigines, our leaders Charles Perkins, Joe McGuinness, Oodgeroo, had to go in a side door and were treated with discontent and with disrespect and I thought that told a story about the treatment of blacks in Australia by Australian government that was different about treating blacks from overseas,” said Aboriginal activist Michael Mansell.
The prime minister and opposition leader left Canberra for the service this morning, disregarding their previous plans to consider the legislation to repeal the Carbon Tax and the Mining Tax in parliament this week.
“Governments of both sides of Australian politics campaigned for an end to apartheid and very much supported the new South Africa that Nelson Mandela, more than anyone, brought into being,” said Prime Minister Abbott.
Despite Mr Abbott’s comments, many civil rights abuses that occurred in Australia still go unrecognised.
After apartheid was abolished there was a Truth and Reconciliation Commission established to examine the experiences of black South Africans at the time, but Indigenous Australians have never been given that opportunity.
Mr Mandela's funeral procession will travel through Pretoria for three days ahead of the service on Sunday.
Thousands of mourners are expected to line the streets to celebrate his life and legacy.