Mandela home after 9 days of mourning

2013-12-14 18:27
Former president Nelson Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, and his former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, console one another as they arrive at Mthatha Airport with Mandela’s remains. (Kopano Tlape, GCIS)

Former president Nelson Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, and his former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, console one another as they arrive at Mthatha Airport with Mandela’s remains. (Kopano Tlape, GCIS)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Qunu - After nine days of nation-wide mourning, Nelson Mandela's body on Saturday arrived in his boyhood village of Qunu where he will be buried on Sunday with state honours and tribal rites.

The military passed Mandela's flag-draped casket to the ANC who in turn handed it to family elders from the abaThembu clan at the home that served as the former president's rural retreat.

Scores of people had lined the road from nearby Mthatha to Qunu to see his cortege pass through the green countryside, many clutching flowers and flags, some perched in trees for a better view.

Breaking into song

Mandela's remains were flown to the Eastern Cape from Pretoria after a final tribute by the ANC at the Waterkloof Airforce Base to the man who symbolised its struggle against apartheid and led it to power in 1994.

President Jacob Zuma saluted Mandela's commitment to a non-racial society and said his life's work would never be forgotten, before shouting "Amandla" and breaking into song.

"Go well Tata... we will always remember you," he said.

Zuma's political woes have become plain in the wake of Mandela's death -- months before the next general elections -- and the ANC is trying to contain the fallout after he was loudly booed before a large cast of world leaders at Tuesday's official memorial in Soweto.

Man of honesty

"We need more Madibas so that our country can prosper... Yes, we are free, but the challenge of inequality remains," he told the audience of key ANC figures at Waterkloof, including former president Thabo Mbeki.

Mbeki, who was ousted by Zuma five years ago, made headlines a few days ago when he suggested the country needed better leadership.

Zuma in his eulogy pointedly said Mandela's death was not the moment to settle political scores.

"We should not think that Madiba's passing is a time for settling scores... it means you do not understand Madiba and you will never understand him, because he was a man of honesty."

Xhosa culture

Mandela's grandson, Mandla, thanked all of those who paid their respects in Pretoria and at dozens of emotion-laden ceremonies around the country in recent days.

"I have witnessed his army, I have witnessed his people, I have witnessed ordinary South Africans who walked this long walk to freedom with him and I can assure the African National Congress today that the future of this country looks bright."

He sat beside Mandela's body at the Union Buildings this week as 100 000 people came to view the freedom icon lying in state and accompanied it on the journey to Qunu in respect of Xhosa culture.

Speaking in the village, AmaHegebe chief Phathekile Holomisa explained that throughout the flight, an elder or senior male family member had to talk to the body and keep it informed of the journey's progress.

The person would address Mandela as if he was still alive, Holomisa explained.

"This is so because his spirit lives," he said.

Private funeral

Sunday's funeral will gather some 4 000 mourners, a small number compared to the tens of thousands who filled most of Soweto's FNB Stadium to hear US President Barack Obama lead tributes to Mandela.

The event became mired in controversy on Saturday when archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu announced that he would not attend because he had not been invited.

"Much as I would have loved to attend the service to say a final farewell to someone I loved and treasured, it would have been disrespectful to Tata to gatecrash what was billed as a private family funeral," he said in a statement.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj contradicted Tutu, giving assurances that the cleric -- who had a long, close association with Mandela, but has lambasted the current government -- was on the guest list.

The government communications service said Tutu should have called if he wanted to attend the funeral because no invites were sent out.

However, the archbishop did not call.

Civil rights

Among the dignatories who will attend are Britain's Prince Charles, African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda and US civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Iranian vice president Mohammad Shariatmadari, Lesotho's King Letsie III and former French prime ministers Lionel Jospin and Alain Juppe will also attend, but former US president Bill Clinton will not, after initially planning to be there.

Mandela will be laid to rest next to his father Mphakanyiswa Gadla Henry, his mother Noqaphi Nosekeni and his son Magkatho Lewanika Mandela.

Read more on:    nelson mandela

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
11 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

PARTNER CONTENT
WATCH: How education can change a life

A university education gives students the chance to create a better future for themselves, their families and to opportunity achieve their dreams.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.