The funeral of former South African president and freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela took place today in his ancestral hometown., Qunu. The event was attended by thousands of people amongst whom are, Oprah Winfrey and her partner Stedman Graham, English businessman Richard Branson, former American President Bill Clinton, Prince Charles, Malawian President Joyce Banda, and many more people.
Mandela was laid to rest after a short sermon by Bishop Siwa. It was then followed by the military bugler who played the Last Post, followed by Reveille, the pall bearers saluted and then withdrew as did the cameras. Mandela’s family was then allowed a private moment to pay their last respect to Madiba at the graveside.
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See below, more photos from Nelson Mandela’s funeral.
A marching platoon of the presidential guard, wearing green ceremonial uniforms and carrying rifles with fixed bayonets, escorted the coffin, which had been transferred to a gun carriage, to the burial site.
At the end of the memorial ceremony a military guard of honour carried Mr Mandela’s coffin, draped in the South African flag, out of the marquee as the audience sang
Nelson Mandela spent much of his childhood in the small, Eastern Cape village of Qunu – a place he chose to return to after his release from prison. The ceremony was held in a marquee constructed for the event.
The President of South Africa Jacob Zuma began his address in song and was joined by the audience. He went on to say. “We wish today to express two simple words: thank you. Thank you for being everything that we wanted and needed in a leader during a difficult time in our lives. Whilst the long walk to freedom has ended in the physical sense our own journey continues.”
Following his speech President Zuma received thanks from Mr Mandela’s former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
To loud applause Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s founding president, jogged to the stage to make an unscheduled address. He said: “This great son of the world, not only South African… Madiba showing us the way, whether you’re white, black, yellow or brown, you’re all God’s children. Come together, work together and God will show you the way.”
Mr Mandela’s granddaughter Nandi recounted stories and anecdotes of her grandfather’s family life. “He was a true servant of the people, his mission in life was to make lives better,” she says. “He truly cared for his family and children.”
Malawian President Joyce Banda paid tribute to Mr Mandela’s former wife Winnie and his widow Graca Machel (pictured). “The love and tolerance you have demonstrated before the whole world at the funeral shows us that you are prepared to continue with his ideals.”
Outside the marquee people gathered to watch the ceremony on big screens.
In Johannesburg mourners continued to gather outside the Mr Mandela’s former home…
Some laid flowers and held portraits..
Others sang and danced to celebrate the life of Mr Mandela.
On a hill overlooking Qunu Zulu men performed a traditional dance.
Anti-apartheid activist and close friend of Mr Mandela Ahmed Kathrada made a very moving tribute. He said: “Farewell my dear brother, my mentor, my leader… My life is in a void and I don’t know who to turn to.”
Across the nation many, like this family in Soweto, watched the funeral service on television.
After the two-hour service, Mr Mandela’s Thembu community will conduct a private traditional Xhosa ceremony – including songs and poems about Mr Mandela’s life and his achievements.
Nelson Mandela’s former wife Winnie Mandela Madikizela (left) and his widow Graca Machel watched as Mr Mandela’s coffin arrived at the white marquee.
Inside the marquee, Nelson Mandela’s portrait had been placed behind 95 candles, representing one for each year of the late president’s life.
Former South African President Mbeki was greeted by ANC supporters as he arrived.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu – a long-time friend of Nelson Mandela – was also there, having earlier said he had cancelled his flight as he had not received an invitation.
Nelson Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe told the BBC earlier in the week that the former president’s family gathered around him to say goodbye in his final hours. She is seen here arriving for the funeral in Qunu.
Shembe priest Michael Notychanga prayed in the direction of the home of former Mr Mandela.
Amongst those attending were US talk show host Oprah Winfrey and her husband Stedman Graham and English businessman Richard Branson (right).
The South African National Defence Forces fired ceremonial cannons as the body of Nelson Mandela was taken from the family home to the funeral marquee.
The coffin arrived with a military escort.
The gun carriage carrying Mr Mandela’s body began its journey to the marquee, signalling the start of singing, and speeches reflecting on the life and achievements of Mr Mandela.
Children waited outside their home for the cortege to pass.
Members of the South African Navy lined the road from the Mandela family house to his burial site in Qunu.
Since his death on 5 December aged 95, many more have paid their respects. Mr Mandela has been hailed as “a giant of history” for his fight against apartheid.
Early on Sunday morning people made their way to Qunu.
Following a week of commemorations Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black leader, is to be buried in his ancestral home in Qunu. Across South Africa people lit candles in his memory on the eve of the funeral.
Photo credits. BBC