News / Africa

Nelson Mandela Laid to Rest in Ancestral Village

Nelson Mandela Laid to Rest in Ancestral Villagei
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December 15, 2013
South Africa’s first black president, anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, has been buried in his home village near Qunu, in Eastern Cape Province. Several thousand family members and close friends attended the funeral as we hear from VOA’s Scott Bobb in Qunu.
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Scott Bobb
— South Africa’s first black president, anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, has been buried in his home village near Qunu, in Eastern Cape Province.  Several thousand family members and close friends attended the funeral.

Nelson Mandela was laid to rest Sunday among the hills of his ancestral homeland, eulogized by friends, family and admirers.

His longtime friend, Ahmed Kathrada, called Mandela his older brother and moved the 4,500 participants with memories from the decades of struggle against apartheid and prison.

"The last time I saw Madiba alive was when I visited him in hospital.  I was filled with an overwhelming sadness and emotion and I cried.  He held my hand and it was profoundly heart-breaking and it brought out all the emotions in me," he said.

Mandela’s granddaughter, Nandi Mandela, recalled lighter stories about the family patriarch known to all by his clan name, Madiba.

She concluded in Xhosa saying, “Go well Madiba.  Go well to the land of your ancestors.  You have run your race.”

  • In this video frame grab, military officers escort former South African President Nelson Mandela's casket as it arrives at his burial site following his funeral service in Qunu, Dec. 15, 2013.
  • Former South African President Nelson Mandela's coffin arrives at the family gravesite for burial at his ancestral village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province, 900 km (559 miles) south of Johannesburg.
  • A woman wipes away a tear while watching the funeral of former president Nelson Mandela on a big screen at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg.
  • Three helicopters fly over the gravesite during the burial of Nelson Mandela in his hometown Qunu.
  • Military personnel line the route as former South African President Nelson Mandela's casket is taken to its burial place in Qunu.
  • General view of the tent where the funeral service for former South African president Nelson Mandela is taking place in Qunu.
  • South African President Jacob Zuma sits between Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Nelson Mandela's former wife, and Nelson Mandela’s widow Graca Machel, right, attend the funeral service for former president in Qunu.
  • People stand outside the dome where the funeral of former South African president Nelson Mandela is taking place in Qunu.
  • Chief Mantanzima speaks during the funeral service for former South African president Nelson Mandela in Qunu.
  • The casket bearing the remains of former South African President Nelson Mandela is brought into a tent for his funeral service for in Qunu.
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu is hugged as he arrives for the funeral service for Nelson Mandela in Qunu, South Africa.
  • Members of the Mdakane family watch a television in their home showing the funeral service of former South Africa President Nelson Mandela in the Soweto township, Johannesburg.
  • Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, left, Nelson Mandela's former wife, left and Nelson Mandela’s widow Graca Machel stand over the former South African president's casket during his funeral service in Qunu.
  • British entrepreneur Richard Branson, right and television host Oprah Winfrey attend the funeral service for former South African President Nelson Mandela in Qunu.
  • Two people follow the proceedings of Nelson Mandela's funeral on a big screen in Nelson Mandela square in Sandton, Johannesburg.

President Jacob Zuma led the crowd in a struggle song, singing we the black people are crying for our land, which was taken by the white people.

Zuma went on to say the day marked the end of Madiba's remarkable 95-year journey of life and that South Africans would cherish every moment spent with him.

“You were indeed an extraordinary human being," he said.  "You will remain our guiding light, illuminating the path as we continue the long journey to build the South Africa of your dreams.  We shall not say goodbye, for you are not gone.  You will live forever in our hearts and minds.”

Video - Mandela's Body Arrives in Hometown Village

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Mandela's Body Arrives in Hometown Villagei
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December 14, 2013

Video - Mandela's Body Arrives in Hometown Village

Residents of Qunu gathered on a nearby hill to view the ceremony on a large screen television and pay their respects.

Zolani Mxabo said he was feeling mixed emotions.

“There’s a side that is happy that he’s finally getting a rest after all the troubles that he went through.  But at the same time I’m also feeling sad because he’s now resting, not dead, he’s just resting.  His soul will always be with us.  We’ll always feel the will,” said Mxabo.

Sibongile Mfocwa met Mandela as a teenager after he was released from prison more than 20 years ago.  She says he taught her humility and other values that she tries to pass on to her four children.

“When I talk of Nelson Mandela I tell them that perseverance pays.  Nelson Mandela is one of those strongest icons I know.  He’s one of those guys who stood up for what is right,” she said.

After the ceremony a smaller group of mourners accompanied the coffin to the family cemetery, where traditional and ecumenical rites were performed before the body was lowered into the ground.

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by: Jomo Matsveru from: Harare -ZIMBABWE
December 21, 2013 2:27 AM
Madiba you were a father figure not önly to the Mandela family but to Africa and all democratic nations of this universe . I salute you . You deserved to live forever.


by: Tish Vibre from: Victoria falls Zimbabwe
December 17, 2013 11:49 PM
We misse and we will still love Nelson Rolinhlanhla Mandela until the end.pliz i wish Robert Mugabe will change and do like Madiba just to let us free and be freedom born again between white and black also the fact now we are surviving because of white people .


by: RHODES. from: HARARE ZIMBABWE
December 16, 2013 4:10 AM
I have always wished I could meet him one day but all was in vain. I have read about him followed all his life history before in and after Jail there is no doubt one of if not the greatest man ever lived on earth that fought for everyone's right. R. I. P. MADIBA.


by: Tawanda from: Harare
December 16, 2013 2:04 AM
He was understanding and impartial. We will try to emulate him.


by: Robert from: Rustenburg
December 15, 2013 7:56 PM
A father who lead by example,Tata tought me that if you got talent don't seat back folding hands because the nation might seek that talent of yours in future,so the fellow south Africans and the entire africa let's not relax till we bid to rest,let's us use our talent like Tata did for the nation and for entire world,I quote "money does lead to success but is the wealth of humanity who lead to success",so fellow south africans and the continent let's use our talent in different catego
ries of life,eg if you born to be in politics to build the nation for rightenous reason go for it,if you are an actor,go for it,if you are a business person,go for it,if you meant to a doctor,do it."I quote Tata said this country has got young powerfully and educated person than Mandela to lead this beautiful south africa,I Robert Mabe appreciate and thanks for the beautifully "states"funeral but in future the state must uses our stadiums in different provinces to gather the events like these,thanks very much and much more.


by: Nicholas Akuamoah-Boateng from: Kumasi-Ghana
December 15, 2013 5:46 PM
At long last the battle has ended, and Madiba, my beloved father is gone forever! Adieu! Tata! "Ibuntu" !


by: Nicholas Akuamoah-Boateng from: Kumasi-Ghana
December 15, 2013 12:46 PM
Hmmmm! At long last the battle has ended and Madiba, my beloved father has gone forever.

In Response

by: Erewa from: Lagos, Nigeria
December 16, 2013 3:27 AM
Its important to note, that the quality of a life spent is not measured in its duration but in its donation. Madiba you had proved to all and sundry, that we must bequeath a legacy by positively affecting our society before we step off the stage. You would forever remain evergreen in our memory

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