After the public memorial service at Johannesburg’s FNB stadium last Tuesday, Nelson Mandela was laid to rest in his home village Sunday (December 16). The country of South Africa continued to praise the great leader over the weekend, ahead of a state funeral before his casket was lowered into its final resting place in Qunu.
Mandela’s casket, draped in the flag of South Africa, arrived in grand fashion in the Eastern Cape hills of his youth. A state funeral was held for Mandela, the first time that’s ever happened in the country, and the four-hour event was shown live on several television feeds in various locations. Many notable public figures attended the funeral service, including Oprah Winfrey, Jesse Jackson, Prince Charles, Richard Branson, and Idris Elba.
Current President of South Africa Jacob Zuma spoke lovingly of “Madiba,” using the nickname he was said to prefer. “Today marks the end of extraordinary journey that began 95 years ago, the long walk to freedom has ended,” said Zuma. “When people see goodness in a person they respond by reflecting goodness back at that person and on their fellow man and women.”
Mandela’s funeral procession was marked with the show of support and military might expected of the country’s first Black leader and former freedom fighter. With the South African Air Force flying overhead and flanked by armed soldiers, the arrival of Mandela’s casket in his home village was an impressive sight. Mandela’s widow, Graca Michel, was comforted by the leader’s ex-wife ex-wife Winnie Mandela, both shedding tears as they held hands.
The burial site was blocked by military, naturally, and only invited guests were allowed on the estate of the Mandela family. One man, who belonged to the Thembu tribe that Mandela belonged to, referred to the leader as “Tata” or “father” in the Xhosa tribal language.
“I wanted to be here, I did not want to be told, I wanted to see it for myself,” said Sibusiso Masuna, speaking to the Telegraph. “I was never able to bury my father, I did not know him, but Tata was like a father to me.”
View the following pages to see photos from the state funeral for Nelson Mandela and other related images.
Photos: Reuters, EPA