South Africa Readies For Week of Mourning, Intense Security05:12
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Air Force One, with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama aboard, departs at Andrews Air Force Base One, Md, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, en route to South Africa for a memorial service in honor of Nelson Mandela. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)
Air Force One, with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama aboard, departs at Andrews Air Force Base One, Md, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, en route to South Africa for a memorial service in honor of Nelson Mandela. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

President Obama and former President George W. Bush and their wives are on board Air Force One today, along with former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton, on their way to South Africa for a massive memorial service to honor former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died last week.

Joining them in South Africa will be former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, as well as 50 other heads of state from around the world. The only living U.S. president not attending the events will be George H.W. Bush, who at 89 is not well enough to travel.

Tomorrow's memorial service is expected to draw tens of thousands of mourners, as well as hundreds of public officials, creating unprecedented security concerns and preparations by South Africa's police and military.

NPR's Gregory Warner is in Pretoria and joins Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson.

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This segment aired on December 9, 2013.

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