News / Africa

Thousands Attend Nelson Mandela's Funeral

  • 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.
VOA News
Former South African president Nelson Mandela was laid to rest after 10 days of mourning for the revered anti-apartheid leader.

Under a mostly sunny blue sky, a military procession carried Mandela's casket to a gravesite in his rural hometown of Qunu on Sunday.

After a brief service, soldiers fired a 21-round salute, military planes flew overhead and the body was lowered into its grave.

Earlier, more than 4,000 attended an emotional funeral program Sunday, where Mandela's granddaughter and several African presidents paid final tribute to the anti-apartheid leader, who died 10 days ago at age 95.
Friends, world leaders and family members hailed Mandela as a man who transformed his family, his country and the world in a somber funeral service. 

Heads of state and international celebrities were among the thousands of people who descended on 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. 

South African President Jacob Zuma called his predecessor "a fountain of wisdom, a pillar of strength, and a beacon of hope for all those fighting for a just and equitable world order."

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.

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

This past week, tens of thousands of mourners turned out to pay tribute to Mandela, while his body was displayed in Pretoria's Union Buildings.

The Union Buildings are South Africa's seat of government, and the same place where Mandela was sworn in as the country's first black president in 1994, after serving 27 years in prison for his role in the struggle against white minority rule.

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