News / Africa

Emotional and Personal Tributes at Mandela's Funeral in Qunu

Mandela's Body Arrives in Hometown Villagei
X
December 14, 2013 3:29 PM
VIDEO: Mandela's Body Arrives in Hometown Village
VOA News
Friends, world leaders and family members hailed former South African President Nelson Mandela on Sunday as a man who transformed his family, his country and the world in a somber funeral service in his rural hometown.

Mandela died last week at the age of 95.

World leaders and international celebrities were among the thousands of people who descended on the town of Qunu.

Mourners included Oprah Winfrey, billionaire Richard Branson and numerous South African activists who assisted Mandela in the struggle to end the racist apartheid regime. He spent 27 years in prison for his opposition and emerged to be elected South Africa's first black president, in 1994.

Family representative Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima mentioned politics in his speech, criticizing those who booed current president Jacob Zuma at a memorial service this week.  

"What we saw on Tuesday at FNB Stadium should never be seen again in this country," he told mourners in the Xhosa language.
 
Some of the most moving tributes came from those who described Mandela not as a 20th century colossus, but as a friend and beloved relative.  "I don't consider him my friend. He was my older brother," said Ahmed Kathrada, an anti-apartheid activist who spent time at Robben Island prison with Mandela.

Granddaughter Nandi Mandela described Mandela as a strict grandfather who loved telling stories of his childhood.
 
She finished her tribute by saying in Xhosa: “go well Madiba….go well to the land of our ancestors, you have ran your race.”
   
Mandela's body will be buried in a private plot in accordance with traditional practices later today.

At a Saturday briefing, minister for the presidency Collins Chabane said about 4,500 people were expected to attend the funeral and about 450 people are expected to witness his burial, which is set for noon local time, in Qunu.

The ruling African National Congress party held a memorial service for the late president at Waterkloof air base near Johannesburg earlier Saturday before the remains were flown to the Eastern Cape Province.

The funeral procession carrying the remains of former South African President Nelson Mandela proceeds to Mandela's hometown and burial site in Qunu, Dec. 14, 2013.The funeral procession carrying the remains of former South African President Nelson Mandela proceeds to Mandela's hometown and burial site in Qunu, Dec. 14, 2013.
x
The funeral procession carrying the remains of former South African President Nelson Mandela proceeds to Mandela's hometown and burial site in Qunu, Dec. 14, 2013.
The funeral procession carrying the remains of former South African President Nelson Mandela proceeds to Mandela's hometown and burial site in Qunu, Dec. 14, 2013.
Well-wishers waved flags and cheered on Saturday as a hearse carrying Mandela's flag-draped coffin made its way from the airport in Mthatha to his family compound, situated in a hilly region of the Eastern Cape with green fields.
 

VOA correspondent Scott Bobb, who was among those who saw the convoy pass, called the mood one of excitement and jubilation tinged with sadness.
 
Many onlookers waited for as long as eight hours to see the cortege.

Tutu in attendance
 
It had been rumored that one notable absence may have been Mandela's long-time friend, retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In a Saturday statement, Tutu had said he did not receive a formal invitation and did not want to "gate crash" the funeral of his fellow Nobel laureate.
 
Chabane responded by saying the government did not issue invitations to any guests, and anyone who wanted to attend the funeral was welcome to do so.

Nelson Mandela

  • 1918 - Born in Transkei, South Africa
  • 1944 - Joined African National Congress
  • 1956 - Charged with treason, later acquitted
  • 1962 - Convicted of sabotage and sentenced to 5 years
  • 1964 - Sentenced to life in prison for plotting to overthrow the government
  • 1990 - Released from prison
  • 1991 - Elected president of ANC
  • 1993 - Won Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1994 - Elected president of South Africa
  • 1999 - Decided not to seek a second term as president
  • 2004 - Retired from public life
  • 2007 - Formed The Elders group
  • 2011 - Briefly hospitalized for a chest infection
  • 2012 - Hospitalized again,this time for gallstones
  • 2013 - Treated for a recurring lung infection, dies on Dec. 5
Some have viewed the lack of a formal invitation to Tutu as a snub. The religious icon has been an outspoken critic of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.

A spokesman for the Anglican cleric issued a statement late Saturday saying Tutu will travel to Qunu early Sunday for the funeral. There was no word on what prompted the change of plans.
 
Last public appearance
 
After Mr. Mandela's body arrived in Eastern Cape Province, police struggled to keep crowds from surging onto the highways as Mandela's convoy passed with the flag-draped coffin.

For many, witnessing their beloved leader’s last public appearance was a chance to reflect on how the anti-apartheid icon's life impacted their own.
 
Sizwe, who goes by only one name, says he was eight years old when Mandela was freed from prison, and that his own generation will never forget South Africa’s first black president.
 
“Especially us, the youth, because we are looking up to him — a lot of things that he has done for us," he said. "Even here in this area there are a lot of changes through him. If he didn’t fight for this country like he did, I don’t think we’d be standing where we are today."
 
Luyanda Liberty Gcaza agreed, explaining that because of Mandela's push to make education more accessible, he is graduating with a university degree in biology.
 
“In the olden days it was rare to find a man like me in South Africa, completing his degree," said Gcaza. "I think this is special because education was the first [most] important thing for him, because he said that in order for South Africa to be free we need to be educated.”
 
Nano Binase, a mother of two who waited for hours to pay her last respects, says she wants her children to learn of Mandela’s humility and ability to forgive despite numerous injustices.
 
“He has lived an exemplary life. We can [should] follow his example," she said.
 
Mandla Mandela, the former South African president's grandson and designated family heir, said his 95-year-old grandfather continued to work to improve people's lives even after his retirement from politics.

Story continues below photogallery:

  • Police form a barricade after the the cut off time for viewing the body of Nelson Mandela outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Dec. 13, 2013.
  • Crowds of people walk after learning they would not be able to view Nelson Mandela's body at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Dec. 13, 2013. (Peter Cox for VOA)
  • South African police control the crowd following a crush as people jostled to see former South African president Nelson Mandela on the last day of his lying in state in Pretoria, Dec. 13, 2013.
  • People line up to catch a bus to see the remains of Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • People line up for courtesy buses to ferry them to the Union Buildings to view the body of Nelson Mandela in Pretoria, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • A woman weeps after paying her respects to Nelson Mandela as Mandela lies in state for the second day at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • South African mourners hold posters of former president Nelson Mandela, while chanting slogans as the convoy transporting his remains passes by in Pretoria, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Military personnel carry the remains of the late Nelson Mandela upon arrival at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Nelson Mandela's widow Graca Machel, right, pays her respects to the former South African president at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Mourners line up after waiting for hours to get into a bus to go to the Union Buildings where the casket of Nelson Mandela lies in state for three days in Pretoria, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • People react as the procession for former South African president Nelson Mandela leaves the military hospital in Pretoria, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Defense force personnel and hospital staff salute a procession for former South African president Nelson Mandela as it leaves the military hospital in Pretoria, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Women wave South African national flags before the cortege carrying the coffin of former South African President Nelson Mandela passes by in Pretoria, Dec. 11, 2013.

"This world icon worked tirelessly even after the achievement of democracy in South Africa to continue improving lives," he said. "Even as he retired from politics his attention shifted to social issues such as HIV and AIDS, and the wellbeing of the nation's children."
 
Massive outpouring
 
Authorities say more than 100,000 people paid their respects over three days while Mandela lay in state in Pretoria's Union Buildings, South Africa's seat of government and the place where Mandela was sworn in as the nation's first black president in 1994, after serving 27 years in prison for his role in the struggle against white minority rule.
 
He was also eulogized Tuesday at a memorial in Johannesburg that was attended by more than 60,000 people and more than 80 heads of state and government.
 
On Friday, police struggled to control crowds that tried to push past barricades at the site as the three-day viewing period drew to a close. The former South African leader died December 5 following a lengthy illness.

VOA correspondent Scott Bobb contributed to this report from Mthatha, South Africa.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Arkansas, North Carolina have approved similar laws that gay-marriage opponents say help maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Nicholas Akuamoah-Boateng from: Kumasi-Ghana
December 14, 2013 7:59 PM
Still we are not learning our lessons! Why ? Because Bishop Tutu is a critic of the ruling gov you are snubbing him? I have already appealed to President Zuma to adhere strictly to the idea and visions of Madiba.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More