(FILES) A picture taken on February 11, 1990 shows Nelson Mandela (C) and his then-wife Winnie raising their fists and saluting cheering crowd upon Mandela's release from the Victor Verster prison near Paarl. Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela, affectionately known by his clan name "Madiba", became commander-in-chief of Umkhonto weSizwe (Spear of the Nation), the armed underground wing of the African National Congress, in 1961, and the following year underwent military training in Algeria and Ethiopia. After more than a year underground, Mandela was captured by police and sentenced in 1964 to life in prison during the Rivonia trial, where he delivered a speech that was to become the manifesto of the anti-apartheid movement. Mandela started his prison years in the notorious Robben Island Prison, a maximum security prison on a small island 7Km off the coast near Cape Town. In April 1984 he was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town and in December 1988 he was moved the Victor Verster Prison near Paarl. While in prison, Mandela flatly rejected offers made by his jailers for remission of sentence in exchange for accepting the bantustan policy by recognising the independence of the Transkei and agreeing to settle there. Again in the 'eighties Mandela rejected an offer of release on condition that he renounce violence. Prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Only free men can negotiate, he said, according to ANC reports.  AFP PHOTO FILES / ALEXANDER JOE (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)
This video is no longer available
00:10 - Source: CNN

Send us your stories, memories and photographs of the Nobel Peace prize winner and former South African president.

Story highlights

CNN has a detailed account of how plans will unfold over the next 10 days

The 10 days of mourning will combine both Western traditions and those of Mandela's native clan

No formal public events will be held until five days after Mandela's death

Johannesburg CNN  — 

For the Xhosa people of South Africa, death is traditionally not something to be talked about or to be planned for, no matter how inevitable or close it may seem.

But those close to Nelson Mandela had little choice as the country’s first black leader lay in a Pretoria hospital and then at home in Johannesburg on life support.

In the final years of his life, secret plans were hammered out between the government, the military and his family as they prepared for a fitting farewell for a great man.

Below is a breakdown of how those plans will unfold over the next 10 days, culminating in a state funeral to be broadcast to millions worldwide and a very private farewell for those closest to him.

As is often the case with events of this magnitude, plans might change due to weather, security and other factors. But for now, this is what the authorities and the family hope will happen.

According to multiple sources involved with the planning of the final farewell to the South African icon, the 10 days of mourning will combine both Western traditions and those of the Thembu, Mandela’s native clan.

Day 1 to Day 4

Mandela passed away at 8.50 p.m. Thursday (1.50 p.m. ET), surrounded by his family, South African President Jacob Zuma said. CNN understands that during his final hours, Mandela would have also been surrounded by Thembu elders. Importantly, at some stage - either at his home or in the mortuary - the traditional leaders will gather for a first ceremony, a tradition called “the closing of the eyes.”

Throughout the ceremony, they’ll be talking to Mandela, as well as to his tribal ancestors, to explain what’s happening at each and every stage to ease the transition from life to beyond.

After the ceremony, it’s believed Mandela’s body will be embalmed at the mortuary, which is understood to be a military hospital in Pretoria.

Day 5

No formal public events will be held until five days after Mandela’s death when tens of thousands of people are expected to converge on the FNB Stadium, known as Soccer City in Soweto for a memorial service.

It was at that stadium that in July 2010 Mandela made his last public appearance at the World Cup final.

Spectators rose to their feet, their cheers partly drowned out by the deafening shriek of thousands of vuvuzelas to pay tribute to the then-92- year-old who some had feared might be to