The body of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, has been buried in his hometown of Qunu in Eastern Cape province. He was laid to rest after a final farewell ceremony for some 4,500 guests.
He was was buried at about 12.40pm.
Family members, political leaders, tribal elders and religious functionaries offered eulogies for Nelson Mandela on Sunday, before his body was interred in his childhood home of Qunu.
“Madiba, we will miss your smile, your laughter, your love and your leadership,” said South African President Jacob Zuma. “While your long walk to freedom has ended in a physical sense, our own journey continues.”
“Thank you. Thank you for being everything we needed and wanted in a leader during a difficult period in our lives… for building a free South Africa,” said Zuma to the mourners.
Nelson Mandela’s coffin began its final journey to his family’s burial site in Qunu in the province of Eastern Cape early on Sunday, accompanied by soldiers, artillery salutes and music.
Pallbearers then brought the coffin, draped in a South African flag, into a huge tent erected on the Mandela family compound.
Mandela’s wideow Graca Machel, his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and grandson and heir Mandla walked behind the coffin as it was moved into the marquis to a rendition of the Xhosa hymn “Lizalis’ idinga lakho,” “Fulfil Your Promise.”
The military honour guard marked the occasion by firing a 21 gun salute.
African leaders included Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, Malawian President Joyce Banda and Zambia’s first post-colonial president Kenneth Kaunda—all of whom delivered eulogies.
Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu attended in a last-minute change of heart after saying on Saturday he had cancelled plans to go to Qunu after finding he had not been invited.
Mandela was a key leader in South Africa’s struggle against Apartheid, spent 27 years in jail, shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with former President Frederik Willem de Klerk and then became South Africa’s first black president in 1995.
– Mail and Gaudian / DW / Online Correspondent