12/07/2013 09:24 EST | Updated 02/06/2014 05:59 EST

Eternal flame lit in Mandela's hometown of Qunu

Leaders from around the world will soon be arriving in South Africa to pay their respects to anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela as tributes continue, leading up to a state funeral planned for next weekend.

A memorial flame was lit on Saturday at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu in the Eastern Cape province, Mandela's rural ancestral hometown.

"The flame, it symbolizes a multiplicity of things," said Nozuko Yokwana, chair of the Nelson Mandela Museum, who called the esteemed former president a "beacon of light" and a "beacon of hope."

"His character, his behaviour, his leadership, his values and principles. It also says to us that we cannot stop now just because he is gone, but we must continue to light the nation, to do things that we have been doing, and strengthen ourselves and motivate ourselves," she said.

South African President Jacob Zuma has declared a week of mourning for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, which will include several services, ending with burial in Qunu on Dec. 15.

A national day of prayer and reflection has been declared for Sunday.

South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the memorial service and funeral for Mandela as thousands of mourners continued to flock to sites around the country to pay homage.

Among those who have already indicated that they will be travelling to South Africa to honour Mandela, who died at his Johannesburg home at the age of 95 on Thursday night, are U.S. President Barack Obama and his two predecessors, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to leave Ottawa this weekend for Johannesburg. Harper has invited the prime ministers he succeeded to travel with him, but there's no word yet how many have accepted.

Several of the former prime ministers of Canada had ties to Mandela. Brian Mulroney spearheaded Canada's efforts to free Mandela from prison and pressure South Africa to end apartheid. Joe Clark, another former prime minister, was Mulroney's foreign affairs minister at the time.

And Jean Chretien lived in 24 Sussex Drive when Mandela was granted honorary Canadian citizenship in 2001.

The CBC's Margaret Evans, who is among the throng outside Mandela's home in Houghton, said people are continuing to mourn his death, but also celebrate the life of the esteemed former president.

"Two times I was here, where both times people were worried and knew he was struggling with a lung condition. The mood was much more sombre, with people praying either for him to recover or to finally let him go.

"Since I've been back, this time, the mood is much more celebratory. [They say] we can mourn him, but we must also celebrate his achievements. People are singing, pictures are everywhere," she said.

Members of the British House of Commons will take part in a special tribute to Mandela on Monday.

New Westminster Hall will hear speeches from anti-apartheid protesters who kept Mandela in the spotlight during his many years in prison, CBC's Ann MacMillan reported from London on Saturday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron plans to travel to South Africa next week.

MacMillan said a "senior royal" will be flying there as well, "probably Prince Charles," although it remains unclear who will go or which event they will attend.