Chirac’s Family Bids French Ex-President Final Farewell

This photograph taken on October 5, 2019, shows a portrait of late French President Jacques Chirac at the “Musee du President Jacques Chirac” (President Jacques Chirac museum), the museum is to open to public, free of charge on October 5 and 6, 2019 in Sarran, central France.  GEORGES GOBET / AFP

 

Former French President Jacques Chirac’s family bade him a final farewell Saturday at an intimate ceremony in the southwestern village where he grew up.

“I can only say thank you in the name of my father and mother,” the statesman’s daughter Claude Chirac said in a tearful address at Sainte-Fereole, a small village in the Chirac fiefdom of the Correze region.

“In childhood and adolescence, Jacques Chirac was made here,” said mayor Henri Soulier.

Born in Paris, Chirac, who died aged 86 on September 26, moved as a young boy to Sainte-Fereole where he was elected a municipal councillor in 1965 before becoming a Correze lawmaker two years later.

He continued to represent the Correze department until becoming president in 1995, serving as head of state until 2007.

Chirac’s widow Bernadette, 86, did not attend the gathering of some 200 people in a picturesque village square decked out in portraits of the former president showing key moments of his life in public service.

Soulier said he had proposed and Chirac’s family had agreed to rename the square after him in the village which they had insisted would be the site of the final homage to his life.

Prior to the ceremony, local leaders had accompanied the family to lay a wreath at the tomb of Chirac’s parents.

The group then stopped by the village hall and the family home, of which Claude Chirac’s husband Frederic Salat-Baroux vowed “we shall never sell this house. One is always from somewhere and, for Claude, that’s here.”

Claude recalled how she was “often at Sainte-Fereole with Laurence,” Chirac’s other daughter, who died in 2016.

“We would leave Paris on Friday and our parents would leave us there before travelling around the department,” she recalled.

“My mother is very emotional today that she cannot come … it’s an exceptional homage. It is very comforting to her. And I want to say thank you for that because she really needs it,” Claude said.

Local authorities said meanwhile some 3,000 people had participated in a day of “memory and friendship” to honour Chirac at nearby Sarran, where Bernadette was first elected a municipal councillor in 1971 and which houses a museum dedicated to his life.

Among those attending Saturday was former Socialist president Francois Hollande, who was a political rival of Chirac in Correze, as well as Chirac’s grandson Martin Rey-Chirac.

Dozens of world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, last Monday paid their final respects at a funeral service in Paris alongside dignitaries including former US president Bill Clinton, a day after 7,000 people queued to view Chirac’s coffin at Invalides military hospital and museum.

He was then laid to rest at a cemetery at Montparnasse in Paris.

France Bids Farewell To Ex-President Chirac

People queue to say a final farewell to former French President Jacques Chirac as the coffin lies in state at the Saint-Louis-des-Invalides cathedral at the Invalides memorial complex in central Paris on September 29, 2019. Kamil Zihnioglu / POOL / AFP

 

Thousands of people on Sunday queued in Paris to bid a final farewell to France’s former president Jacques Chirac, fondly remembered as a charismatic giant of domestic and international politics despite a mixed legacy.

A massive queue snaked round the Invalides complex to pay homage at Chirac’s coffin ahead of a national day of mourning on Monday and a memorial service expected to be attended by dozens of world leaders.

Chirac’s death on Thursday aged 86 prompted a flood of tributes to a man whose high-profile political career spanned three decades capped by 12 years as president from 1995-2007.

But it also sparked questions about how much this consummate political operator had actually achieved during a long spell in office and again threw the spotlight on a 2011 conviction for graft over his time as Paris mayor.

Nevertheless, a poll in Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper showed that the French consider him to have been their best president of the modern era, alongside Charles de Gaulle.

An initial multi-faith prayer was held around the coffin in the Saint-Louis-des-Invalides cathedral at the Invalides memorial complex with close family, including his daughter Claude.

His wife of six decades Bernadette, 86, was however not present.

Members of the public were then allowed in to view the coffin, draped in a French flag and flanked by a picture of a waving Chirac.

Thousands lined up in a queue that wound around the Invalides complex for almost one kilometre, braving rainy weather and the prospect of a long wait.

Allowed to enter in small groups, some crossed themselves while others took photos and even selfies.

“Chirac represented a certain era,” said Marin Menzin, 21. “If he had seen the queue today, he would have jumped into the crowd to shake hands.”

Putin to attend service 

 

The French presidency had since Thursday night thrown open the doors of the Elysee Palace for anyone wanting to write in condolence books. By the time the doors shut on Saturday evening, 5,000 people had done so.

The national day of mourning in France Monday will see a minute of silence observed in all public institutions and schools.

The coffin of Chirac will at 0900 GMT Monday leave the Invalides, under a military escort through the streets of Paris, before arriving at the Saint-Sulpice church for a final memorial service attended by President Emmanuel Macron.

The Elysee said some 30 heads of state and government are expected to be present, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Former leaders who worked closely with Chirac, notably including German ex-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, will also be there.

Chirac’s successors Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, will attend, the Elysee said. France’s current political class will all be there, including far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whose father and former far-right chief Jean-Marie Le Pen made no secret of his enmity for Chirac.

In a rare public appearance, also present will be the third president of France’s modern fifth republic Valery Giscard d’Estaing, 93, who has now outlived his successor Francois Mitterrand who died in 1996, and Chirac.

In the final act, Chirac will be buried at the Montparnasse cemetery in southern Paris, next to his daughter Laurence who died in 2016 aged 58 following a battle with anorexia.

 ‘No angel’ 

Perhaps Chirac’s most significant political decision was opposing the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. He also presided over a significant cut in road deaths, acknowledged France’s role in the deportation of Jews in World War II and warned of the risk of climate change before it rose high on the political agenda.

But many tributes focused not on policy achievements but the sheer charisma and genuine love for his country of a man who Macron said Thursday “embodied a certain idea of France.”

According to the Ifop survey in Le Journal du Dimanche, based on interviews with 1,015 people, 30 percent of French now see Chirac as their best president, the same rating as de Gaulle.

“It’s clear Chirac was no angel,” the paper wrote in an editorial, saying he had sometimes overstepped the mark for sake of power.

“But to experience all these tests and embody the spirit of a nation, is this not the legacy of a great president? It is at least that of a great man,” it wrote.

AFP

Mugabe To Be Buried At Home Village

Pallbearers carry the coffin of late former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe for a mass at the family homestead in Kutama village, 80km northwest of Harare, on September 17, 2019.

 

Zimbabwe announced on Thursday that ex-president Robert Mugabe will be buried at his home village in Zvimba as requested by his family.

The government said the family of the former leader, who died in Singapore on September 6 aged 95, “has expressed its desire to proceed with his burial in Zvimba”.

“Government is cooperating with the Mugabe family in their new position,” government spokesman Nick Mangwana said in a statement.

Tensions erupted after the government proposed a burial at the National Heroes Acre while the family insisted on a private ceremony in Mugabe’s homestead.

Government did not state the burial date, but “all the necessary support” will be provided “to give the late former president a fitting burial as led by the family.”

The family was not immediately reachable for comment, but a close family associate and some local private media said the burial would take place on Saturday.

“The position as I understand it is that the body will be in Zvimba today for burial on Saturday,” a source close to the Mugabe family told AFP.

The former guerilla leader, who came to power at the end of white minority rule in 1980 and ruled Zimbabwe uninterrupted for 37 years and seven months, died of prostate cancer, according to his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa.

He was toppled on November 2017 in a military-backed coup, ending an increasingly iron-fisted rule marked by political oppression and economic ruin.

Mugabe’s health deteriorated rapidly after the ousting and he made regular trips to Singapore to seek treatment.

His burial place was caught up in a dispute between his family — who wanted to bury him at his rural homestead Zvimba — and the government, which pushed for the body to rest at a national monument in the capital.

Two weeks ago the family said they had agreed that he would be buried at the National Heroes Acre monument, in about a month, once a mausoleum was built for him.

But on Thursday they made an about-turn, reverting to their original plan.

AFP

Tunisia Ex-President Ben Ali Buried In Medina

Former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali 1987 poses for an official picture in front of the Tunisian flag.  Handout / AFP

 

Tunisia’s former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was buried in the Muslim holy city of Medina on Saturday, witnesses said, after he died in exile in Saudi Arabia.

Ben Ali, who died Thursday in the city of Jeddah, was laid to rest at Al-Baqi cemetery next to the Prophet Mohammed’s mosque and a place of great reverence for Muslims.

Some of his family were to receive condolences on Sunday in an upmarket suburb of Tunis, according to a small notice published in Tunisia’s La Presse newspaper.

Ben Ali, the first leader to be toppled by the Arab Spring revolts, died aged 83.

He ruled his North African country from 1987 until 2011 and was viewed by some as a bulwark against Islamist extremism, but he faced criticism for muzzling the opposition and his reluctance to embrace democracy.

Eventually, growing frustration over unemployment and high prices snapped.

In late 2010, a young trader in Sidi Bouzid, in the impoverished centre of the country, set fire to himself in protest at humiliation by police.

That sparked protests which rocked Tunisia and triggered a deadly clampdown.

But the protesters won: on January 14, 2011 Ben Ali fled Tunisia for Saudi Arabia where he stayed until his death.

His rapid departure sparked a string of similar uprisings across the region, toppling Egyptian and Libyan strongmen Hosni Mubarak and Moamer Kadhafi.

The ex-leader’s wife, Leila Trabesli, who has led a comfortable and discreet life in exile with daughters Nesrine and Halima — along with son Mohamed — has little incentive to return home.

She faces heavy sentences for embezzlement, alongside possession of weapons, drugs and archaeological artefacts.

Ben Ali himself was sentenced several times to life in prison, including for the bloody suppression of protests in the last weeks of his autocratic rule that killed more than 300 people.

He never faced justice.

AFP

Traditional Beliefs, Rituals Fuel Tensions Over Mugabe’s Funeral

Pallbearers carry the coffin of late former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe for a mass at the family homestead in Kutama village, 80km northwest of Harare, on September 17, 2019.

As public wakes for late Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe have drawn to a close, traditional chiefs are demanding the body be buried according to spiritual traditions.

Those requests have been part of a dispute over the final burial of Mugabe, who died September 6 almost two years after a coup ended his increasingly autocratic 37-year rule.

He died during a medical trip to Singapore aged 95, leaving Zimbabweans torn over the legacy of a man who some still laud for his role as a colonial-era liberation hero.

Mugabe’s burial has already been caught up in a dispute between his family — who wanted to bury him at his rural homestead Zvimba — and the government, which pushed for the body to rest at a national monument in the capital.

They finally agreed Mugabe would be buried at the National Heroes Acre monument, in about 30 days, once a mausoleum was built for him.

But Mugabe was a non-practising chief in his homestead, and the burial feud has highlighted the spiritual beliefs, superstitions and rituals surrounding deaths of traditional leaders in parts of Zimbabwe.

Once Mugabe’s remains were returned to Zvimba on Monday, traditional leaders demanded the burial remain in line with local rites.

One of the Zvimba chiefs, Raphael Zvikaramba, said they had “so far” accepted the government’s proposal, but refused to comment on the details.

“(Zvimba) chiefs are buried in caves and the burial is secretly conducted at night,” Mugabe’s nephew Dominic Matibiri told AFP, standing outside his late uncle’s rural house.

‘Not just a president’

A prominent Zimbabwean traditional healer, Benjamin Burombo Jnr, detailed the cultural beliefs and superstition surrounding the deaths and funerals of chiefs.

“When a chief such as Mugabe dies, he is not a person that can be buried at Heroes Acre, that is forbidden. He should be buried in a cave,” Burombo told AFP.

“Mugabe was not just a president, but he was the embodiment of the spirit of Kaguvi,” he added, referring to one of Zimbabwe’s revered spirit mediums and pre-colonial nationalist leader.

When a chief died, often his body “would be dried”, his teeth “extracted” and his finger and toenails “ripped off”, Burombo said.

He said the body would then be wrapped in skin hides before burial, and could even be swapped with a token such as a goat’s head to be buried instead.

“You can build that monument, but it doesn’t mean that is where the remains of Mugabe will be buried… it’s just for people to continue remembering him.”

Mugabe grew up Catholic and was educated by Jesuits. But according to Burombo, he still followed “traditional norms and practices” despite “going to church”.

Exaggerating the mystery

Mugabe’s remains currently lie in his childhood village of Kutama, in Zvimba district, about 90 kilometres (56 miles) west of Harare.

During a mass held in his honour, priest Emmanuel Ribeiro — a former acquaintance — said the former president “was secretive and private” about his beliefs.

Retired sociology professor Claude Mararike told AFP the secrecy surrounding the funerals of traditional chiefs had “long vanished”.

He said that in the past, death would only be revealed days or even weeks after burial.

“Very few people knew where the chief was buried,” Mararike said. “There were caves where a particular clan normally buried their own chiefs.”

But Mararike said that long-standing political tensions between the family and government “might have precipitated” the discord and mystery surrounding the funeral.

Mugabe’s family are still bitter over the role current President Emmerson Mnangagwa played in his ouster.

A former guerrilla who fought alongside Mugabe against colonial forces, Mnangagwa was fired as first vice president in 2017. Mugabe had branded him a “traitor”.

Soon after, protesters took to the streets and military officers pressured Mugabe to step down in what was widely seen as a struggle between Mnangagwa’s faction and loyalists to Mugabe’s wife Grace inside the ruling ZANU-PF party.

“There obviously was quite a lot of anger among the Zvimba people on how their son was removed from office,” said Mararike.

“The late president Mugabe might have said something before he died,” he added referring to how he wanted to be buried, “but what he really said we don’t know”.

AFP

Eco-Friendly Burial: Washington Becomes First US State To Legalise Human Composting

In this file photo taken on December 10, 2010, a Recology holds a hanful of compost made from collected compostable materials at the Recology transfer station in San Francisco, California. PHOTO: JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Washington on Tuesday became the first US state to legalise human composting after its eco-friendly governor signed a bill to that effect in a bid to cut carbon emissions from burials and cremations.

Under the new law that will go into effect in May of next year, people who die in the state will have the option to have their bodies transformed into soil suitable for use in gardening in a process called recomposition.

“Recomposition offers an alternative to embalming and burial or cremation that is natural, safe, sustainable, and will result in significant savings in carbon emissions and land usage,” said Katrina Spade, who lobbied for the law and is the founder of Recompose, a Seattle-based company set to be the first to offer the service.

“The idea of returning to nature so directly and being folded back into the cycle of life and death is actually pretty beautiful,” Spade added in a statement sent to AFP.

READ ALSO: Scientists Adopt New Definition For Kilogram

She said she became interested in the process about 10 years ago after turning 30 and thinking more about her own mortality.

Spade then began examining the technical aspects of creating an environmentally friendly “third option” that could compete with the $20-billion US funeral industry, which offers conventional burial and cremation.

Her approach — developed with Washington State University, which did clinical trials with donor bodies — calls for a dead person to be placed in an hexagonal steel container filled with wood chips, alfalfa and straw.

The container is then shut and the body is decomposed by microbes within 30 days. The end product is a dry, fluffy nutrient-rich soil resembling what one would buy at a local nursery and suitable for vegetable gardens.

“Everything — including bones and teeth –- is recomposed,” Spade said. “That’s because our system creates the perfect environment for thermophilic (i.e. heat-loving) microbes and beneficial bacteria to break everything down quite quickly.”

The process used by Recompose is the same as that used for decades with farm animals and the clinical trials carried out by the university in Washington found that it was also safe for use with humans.

‘Socially acceptable materials’

“We have found that the essential methods that we use for livestock mortality composting are also effective for human disposition,” said Dr Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, a professor of soil science at Washington State University. “We have substantially changed the materials used, to be socially acceptable, but the basic principles that we have learned from livestock mortality composting are very effective for the human research subjects that we used.”

According to statistics, more than one in two Americans opt for cremation. In Washington state, nearly 75 percent of people choose that option.

Spade expects her company to charge some $5,500 for a “natural organic reduction,” an amount a little bit over the price of cremation but less than the price of burial in a casket.

Her innovation comes as so-called “green” or earth-friendly burials are gaining traction in the United States, where companies are now offering organic caskets or a burial in which the body is wrapped in a simple shroud in towns that allow it.

The actor Luke Perry, star of the hit-series “Beverly Hills 90210” who died in March, was buried in a biodegradable suit made partly out of mushrooms, as he requested.

The so-called “mushroom suit” was developed by Coeio, a California startup, that said the attire helps the body decompose, neutralizes toxins found in the body and transfers nutrients to plant life.

But not everyone is enthusiastic about turning bodies into garden-variety soil, notably the Catholic church, which has denounced recomposition as undignified and questioned its environmental impact.

“The practice of burying the bodies of the deceased shows a greater esteem toward the deceased,” Joseph Sprague, executive director of the Washington State Catholic Conference, said in a letter to the legislative committee that examined the bill signed on Tuesday.

He added that using one’s remains after recomposition as ordinary compost was against Church doctrine.

“The Catholic Church believes that disposing human remains in such manner fails to show enough respect for the body of the deceased,” he wrote.

AFP

Thousands Gather In Florence For Astori’s Funeral

Fiorentina’s supporters pay homage to Fiorentina’s captain Davide Astori as his coffin is carried out of Santa Croce basilica at the end of the funeral on March 8, 2018 in Florence. 
Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

Thousands of mourners holding banners and letting off smoke flares gathered in Florence on Thursday for the funeral of Fiorentina and Italy footballer Davide Astori.

The sudden death of the 31-year-old who captained his club has sparked an outpouring of grief in football-mad Italy.

One banner in the crowd read “Ciao captain”, another “Our captain forever”.

Children wearing Fiorentina’s distinctive purple formed a guard of honour outside the Santa Croce basilica in the city as Astori’s coffin was carried out after the service.

Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and his Juventus teammate Giorgio Chiellini were among the mourners having flow back from London where the Turin team dedicated their Champions League victory over Tottenham on Wednesday to Astori.

Chiellini after the match said: “We dedicate the win to him. He is on our minds on this day. I cried many times. He was a fantastic player.”

Fellow internationals Daniele De Rossi and Mario Balotelli were also among players present and the entire Fiorentina team, dressed in sober dark suits and ties, came to pay their respects.

Astori was found dead in a hotel room in Udine on Sunday ahead of Fiorentina’s Serie A match against Udinese.

A post-mortem examination has found he most likely died from a cardiac arrest linked to the slowing of his heart rate.

Fiorentina and Astori’s former club Cagliari have said they will retire his number 13 shirt in his honour.

AFP

Burial ceremony of Clara adeyinka Shodipo

On a sad note, The family of Shodipe gave their mother,grandmother; Chief Clara Adeyinka Shodipo a befitting burial in Lagos.

Mrs.Shodipo who died at the age of 85 was at a time the Chief Nursing Officer of the Federation  and Chairman of the Nursing Council of Nigeria.