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Mandela Laid to Rest After Emotional Funeral in Qunu

  • Benedict Nhlapho

Nelson Mandela's Body Being Transported to his final resting place. AP

Nelson Mandela's Body Being Transported to his final resting place. AP

The late former South African President Nelson Mandela was buried Sunday at his rural home in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape Province.

Thousands who attended his funeral, including local and foreign dignitaries and heads of states, concurred that the man was a rare leader who will be greatly missed.

Although very few people were allowed to attend the funeral service in Qunu, millions of South Africans were able to follow the proceedings from their television sets and public viewing areas established throughout the country.

It was a funeral described by many as a befitting burial for a man who has won a Nobel Peace Prize and gained respect from all corners of the world.

Former Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was among the foreign dignitaries who attended Mandela’s funeral.

Mandela died on the 5th of December after a long battle with a recurring lung infection.

The twenty-one gun salute, done just before his body was transported to the funeral service venue, became evident that it was indeed the burial of a hero.

During the funeral service, all speakers described Mandela with all kind of words that makes up a world icon like him.

President Jacob Zuma described him as a dedicated humble servant of South Africa.

Mr. Zuma described 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."

Some of the most moving tributes came from those who described Mr. Mandela not as a 20th century colossus, but as a mentor and beloved relative.

Ismail Kathrada, one of the men who was charged with treason during the apartheid era and detained together with Mandela at Robben Island, struggled to hold back his tears when he said his final goodbye.

"I don't consider him my friend. He was my older brother," an emotional Kathrada.

Nomsa Mbatha, like millions of other South Africans who watched the funeral proceedings on their television screens or public viewing areas, due to distance and short list of those allowed to attend the funeral, says the end of Mandela’s life journey is hurting.

Then it was the moment of truth, as Mandela’s coffin lay on the carriage heading to his final resting place.

Even the feet of the marching soldiers were unusual.

A fly past was then performed when Mandela’s coffin was placed on his grave, ready to be lowered down.

Then when the time to lower his coffin came, cameras were switched off, the family left alone as per their request, and only the trumpet of bravery was only heard, signaling the great statesman’s arrival to his final destination here on earth.

Other mourners at the funeral included Britain's Prince Charles, American TV icon Oprah Winfrey, billionaire Richard Branson and numerous South African activists who assisted Mr. Mandela in the struggle against apartheid.
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