15 Dec 2013

Nelson Mandela: the final goodbye

Nelson Mandela is buried in his hometown of Qunu, following a funeral service attended by 4,500 people, at which he was praised for teaching the world the lessons of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Mandela, the anti-apartheid hero and former South African president, was buried just before 1pm in Qunu (11am GMT) at a service attended by members of his family and South African leaders. He was buried, according to custom, when the sun was at the highest point in the sky.

Earlier in the day a huge state funeral ceremony was held, attended by around 4,000 people including political, civil and religious leaders from across the globe.

‘Spirit of endurance’

The funeral heard Mandela praised as a fighter for freedom and a man who taught the world the lessons of forgiveness and reconciliation.

His close friend Ahmed Kathrada, an anti-apartheid campaigner who served 26 years on Robben Island alongside Mandela, delivered an emotional tribute, describing how he had “lost a brother”.

During the past year we have truly missed his voice. Nandi Mandela

An obituary to the statesman said that it was “through Mandela that the world would learn the spirit of endurance, the triumph of forgiveness and the beauty of reconciliation.”

Mandela’s granddaughter Nandi Mandela spoke on behalf of his children and grandchildren, and told stories of humorous and mischievous side. “During the past year we have truly missed his voice,” she said.

Hailemariam Desalagn, the prime minister of Ethiopia and the chairperson of the African Union, said Mandela’s struggle against repression represented the challenges that have faced the African continent as a whole.

Remember to love your neighbour as you love yourself. Kenneth Kaunda

Malawi President Joyce Banda praised Mandela for the lessons he had taught her, saying he had her taught that leadership was about “falling in love with the people that you serve, and the people falling in love with you.” President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania called Mandela “a hero”, “an icon” and “a father”.

Struggle song

South African President Jacob Zuma opened his tribute to Mandela with a struggle song, with the funeral guests joining in. He spoke of the need to continue Mandela’s work, saying “South Africa will continue to rise”.

Towards the end of the service, Kenneth Kaunda, the former president of Zambia, spoke of the love that Nelson Mandela had for people. “Without that, you can’t succeed,” he said. “Remember to love your neighbour as you love yourself.”

Guests at the state funeral service included former South African President Thabo Mbeki, King Letsie III of Lesotho, Prince Albert of Monaco, and Prince Charles, who represents Queen Elizabeth.

Other attendees include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mandela’s close personal friend who had suggested he may not be attending, as well as famous faces such Richard Branson, Idris Elba and Oprah Winfrey.