Nelson Mandela's final farewell - as it happpened

2013-12-15 06:11
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Eastern Cape welcomes Madiba

People lined the route from the airport in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape as they waited for the cortege of Nelson Mandela.

Following a week of memorials and three days of lying in state at the Union Buildings, Nelson Mandela is finally being buried in his childhood village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

Mandela died last Thursday at 20:50 at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg.

A massive memorial service was held at FNB Stadium in Soweto. The service was attended by 91 heads of state and included speeches by Cuban President Raul Castro, our own President Jacob Zuma and US President Barack Obama.

Other services were also held in other cities around the country during the week.

Following three days of lying in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, during which about 100 000 people viewed Madiba's body, Mandela was flown to Mthatha. From there, a cortege took him to Qunu.

Thousands of people are expected to attend the funeral, including talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, billionaire Richard Branson.

13:50 - Right. That's it for updates today. Stay on News24 though for further coverage of events surrounding Nelson Mandela's death. Cheers. 

13:47 - Many of you agree that Ahmed Kathrada's speech was the most moving part of Madiba's funeral. 

13:45 - Another user, Bishop Wanele Dlamini says: The funeral was at a good state, and had dignity. All thanks to the Government, the most part that moved me was that of Tata Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, where he talked about what happened in the stadium on Tuesday and that of Zuma singing before delivering his speech and lastly the one of Zuma's Poet. I just love the guy and the way he writes his poems about our president.

13:43 - News24 user Mapule Mphaki sent us this: Ahmad Kathrada's speech moved me when he spoke about the 1st time he met the late Tata Madiba; tall, healthy and strong. What he saw at his home after returning from hospital was this giant of a man, helpless and reduced to a shadow of his former self. Listening to him, got me so emotional...I tried holding back the tears but couldn't.

13:16 - What was the most emotional part of the funeral for you? Let us know via email at or here. For us, it was definitely Ahmed Kathrada's incredible tribute.

13:13 - If you missed it earlier, watch Malawian President Joyce Banda's wonderful speech for Madiba here

13:09 - 

12:46 - Oh. The committal service is private. 

12:41 - Fighter planes now fly overhead. 

12:40 - The coffin has been lowered into the ground. 

12:39 - Helicopters carrying the South African flag fly past.

12:39 - Bishop: We worship you as the light of the world.

12:38 - Weird. Thought that the actual burial wouldn't be broadcast. Am sure that Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said on Saturday the last part wouldn't be broadcast on TV. And yet... 

12:35 - The flag is taken off the coffin and folded up. 

12:34 - The coffin has reached the gravesite. 

12:31 - 


12:24 - Suddenly heavy clouds gathering over Qunu. Hillsides are darkened as cortege goes towards gravesite, says journalist Ranjeni Munusamy

12:23 - 

12:22 - 

12:22 - 

12:18 - The military band is again leading the gun carriage on which Mandela's coffin is. The coffin is being taken to the gravesite. 

12:13 - The 10 most moving images from Nelson Mandela's funeral. 

12:12 - 

12:11 - 

12:08 - Google has put up a graphic of a simple black ribbon on it's page. When one rolls one's mouse over it, it says 'Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, 1918 - 2013'. A lovely little doodle.  

12:07 - Mourners are now leaving the marquee. 

12:06 - Mandela's actual burial won't be broadcast. 

12:00 - 

11:59 - Beautiful images and sound on eNCA - a sad song is played while we see images of mourners walking to the gravesite. Of course this is causing more crying.

11:54 - The choir starts singing while the coffin is moved. Hamba Kahle, they sing.

11:53 - The coffin is now being moved out of the marquee and to the gravesite. 

11:53 - 

11:52 - 

11:51 - There is a military guard stretching from the marquee to the graveyard, perhaps 500m long. Quite impressive.

11:49 - Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu will also be at the gravesite. 

11:48 - Richard Branson will be going to the gravesite too. 

11:47 - Every. Single. Person. Going to the gravesite is being mentioned. This will put them even more behind schedule. 

11:46 - 450 people will be going to the gravesite. 

11:43 - Cyril Ramaphosa announcing what is to happen next. Mentioning all the people allowed to go to the burial site.

11:42 - Bishop Siwa has concluded his sermon.

11:36 - We're more than an hour behind schedule now. 

11:35 - 

11:29 - 

11:28 - Bishop: We will forever salute you Tata and long for more of those quality actions that lead to more transformation in our time.

11:26 - Bishop Siwa quotes Shakespeare's Macbeth."Life is but a passing shadow..."

11:24 - Baleka Mbete asks bishop to keep his sermon brief.

11:24 - Holomisa: The Madiba song may have ended but its melody lingers on.

11:23 - Holomisa: It was an honour to serve you Tata. 

11:22 - 

11:21 - Holomisa thanks Thabo Mbeki for foresight in setting up the planning committee.

11:21 - Holomisa: To the SA government, thanks for giving Madiba a dignified state funeral befitting an icon.

11:19 - Holomisa: Thank you to those who protected Madiba.

11:18 - Holomisa: We were overwhelmed by the support we received. Thank you very much.

11:16 - Holomisa: We thank those who prayed and showed support when Madiba was in hospital

11:16 - Holomisa: As is customary, we acknowledge people's efforts in the funeral ceremony.

11:14 - Bantu Holomisa now giving a vote of thanks. 

11:12 - Ramaphosa mentions Forrest Whitaker and Alfre Woodard. 

11:10 - Kaunda: Please remember, as we go on without Madiba, he is no more in terms of life, but he is still Madiba our leader.

11:09 - Kaunda: Whether you are white, black yellow or brown you are all God's children.

11:08 - Kaunda: The rugby games for Boers only. He went there and said this is my game also. We'll play together.

11:08 - Kaunda assures Ramaphosa he's going to wrap it up now. 

11:07 - 

11:06 - Kaunda: Who are you to say someone else isn't created in god's image?

11:05 - Kaunda, thank God De Klerk released Nelson Mandela.

11:03 - 

11:03 - Kaunda: I spoke to boer leaders, Vorster and Botha. I told them to talk together. i did not succeed.

10:59 - Kaunda isn't on the programme. Not speaking from a prepared speech. Seems to be going over some history. 

10:58 - Kaunda runs to the podium. 

10:58 - Kenneth Kaunda to speak now. Then Bantu Holomisa will give a vote of thanks. 

10:57 - Ramaphosa thanks Zuma for tribute. 

10:55 - Zuma concludes speech. Mourners sing out loud "Nelson Mandela!" 

10:55 - Zuma hasn't looked up once while speaking. He should try it. 

10:55 - Zuma: We will miss your laughter, smile, love.

10:54 - Zuma: Tata, you were an internationalist which is why African and the world descended on this country to bid you farewell.

10:53 - Zuma thanks all Mandela's staff who looked after him over the years.

10:53 - Zuma: George Bizos, Ahmed Kathrada, Andrew Mlangeni. We feel their pain.

10:52 - 

10:51 - Zuma: Our thoughts are with the people of Qunu. 

10:49 - Zuma: We acknowledge your impressive grandchildren who have matured. We acknowledge your own children.

10:48 - Zuma acknowledges that the past year has not been easy for Graca Machel. 

10:47 - 

10:47 - Zuma: When the ANC was banned, Winnie refused to be silenced. We are proud of her contribution to the liberation of SA. 

10:46 - Zuma: We will continue to use education as a weapon to improve quality of life of children and the youth.

10:44 - Zuma: In your memory, South African children must grow up in a country free and safe from violence and crime, poverty, ignorance.

10:43 - Zuma: Today we undertake to take forward the promotion of an improved quality of life for all.

10:42 - Zuma: We pledge to continue promoting non-racialism. And promote unity and reconciliation

10:41 - Zuma: One thing we can assure you Tata, is that South Africa will continue to rise.

10:41 - Zuma: We dare not revert your achievements. As your journey ends today, ours must continue.

10:40 - Zuma: We learned from you that to build a new society from the ashes of apartheid we needed to rise above anger.

10:40 - Zuma: You forgave those that had taken away most of your human life and dehumanised the majority of your compatriots.

10:39 - Young Khayelitsha man says although he's broke, he scraped together what little money he had to watch the funeral at V&A Waterfront, tweets EWN

10:38 - Zuma's speech is much more heartfelt than his FNB one. 

10:37 - Zuma: You taught us to embrace one another as compatriots, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or creed.

10:36 - Zuma: Your values: unity, selflessness, sacrifice, honesty, discipline, hard work and mutual respect.

10:35 - Zuma: We have to take your legacy forward. We continue drawing lessons from your very rich life.

10:35 - Zuma: Thank you for being everything we wanted and needed in a leader during a difficult period in our lives

10:35 - Zuma: Whilst the long walk to freedom has ended in physical sense, our own journey continues.

10:33 - Zuma led the crowd in singing Thina Sizwe. It's what crowds sang outside the court as Mandela and others were handed life sentences in 1962. 

10:33 - Zuma: We did not want to confront the reality of your mortality.

10:32 - Zuma: Tata, it has been a long, painful week for us, your comrades, your friends, your family, since you took your last breath.

10:31 - Zuma: Mandela was a fountain of wisdom, a pillar of strength.

10:31 - Zuma: Today marks the end of an extraordinary journey that began 95 years ago. 

10:30 - Thabo Mbeki looks very solemn. 

10:29 - Zuma mentions Joyce Banda. Does a little chuckle. 

10:28 - Zuma addresses Graca, Winnie, the Mandela family, the abaThembu tribe, the AU chair. 

10:26 - Zuma now takes to the podium. Leads the crowd in song. 

10:22 - Huge applause as Zuma called to the stage. Praise-singer doing his thing now. 

10:21 - Ramaphosa has another chuckle at the mention of Malawi.

10:20 - President Zuma set to speak next.

10:19 - Kikwete: Let us fulfil his wish to see developing nations working together, to lift themselves from poverty.

10:17 - 

10:17 - Kikwete: Your sadness grief and sorrow is also ours. He was a great man.

10:16 - Kikwete: it's not by accident SA and Tanzania share excellent bilateral relations. We share the same history.

10:15 - Kikwete: when Madiba came to Tanzania after he was freed, he was met by the largest crowd a foreign dignitary ever received.

10:10 - Kikwete: Tanzania was generous enough to give cadres of the liberation movement travel documents.

10:07 - This is supposed to end at 10:30. With Zuma still set to speak as well as a sermon and benediction, it looks highly unlikely they'll finish on time. 

10:07 - Kathrada: He left SA secretly...his mission was to seek support for the armed struggle and to train MK

10:06 - Kikwete: Your grief is our grief and your loss is our loss. the people of Tanzania lost a great friend & comrade.

10:05 Take a listen to Ahmed Kathrada's touching speech here. Warning: Keep tissues ready.

10:04 - Kikwete: People of Tanzania have lost a great friend and comrade.

10:03 - Kikwete: Greetings of solidarity from people of the Republic of Tanzania - deepest condolences to the family, South Africa. 

10:01 - Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete speaking. 

10:01 - 

10:00 - Cyril cracking jokes about Malawi and booing of Zuma. “President you can now say Malawi with the greatest of ease.”

9:57 - Banda concludes speech. Gets a standing ovation. Quite a speech. 

9:56 - Banda: South Africa must continue to be united, a rainbow nation.

9:55 - Banda: I wish to thank President Zuma for leading the nation in mourning Mandela as the hero that he is. As SADC we feel very proud.

9:55 - Banda: Women across Africa have told me how grateful they are to both Graca and Winnie.

9:54 - Banda: To Mama Graca, thank you for your love and care for Madiba during the last days of his life.

9:53 - Banda pays tribute to Winnie. Applause. 

9:53 - Banda: We see this as an opportunity to celebrate the life of a great icon. It will continue to spur those of us left behind.

9:52 - Banda: He was a great reformer who changed the world and deepened democracy. He was a great statesman.

9:51 - Banda: Tata Madiba believed that all people are created equal. He saw no boundaries. He championed freedom of all of us Africans.

9:50 - Banda: I was deeply touched by his spirit of forgiveness and humility.

9:50 - Banda: I join you, people of the rainbow nation, to celebrate life of Africa's most gallant leader.

9:50 - Banda: I told the BBC I was practicing the lessons Mandela taught African leaders. 'Yes I am, come and see'.

9:49 - Banda: I learned that leadership is about falling in love with the people you serve and having them fall in love with you.

9:48 - Banda says she walked in the Houghton house, not knowing Madiba was already in the room. My first reaction was to run out. Graca pulled me back. 

9:46 - Banda: I sought to know and understand this great son of Africa.  I read and read everything I could get my hands on about him.

9:44 - Banda: I was inspired by this great leader. 

9:43 - Banda: I stand before you to join you, the people of South Africa and the world, to celebrate the life of a unique leader.

9:41 - The two opera singers voices are... a bit much for the mics. I think they should try standing a little further back. 

9:40 - The musical item now being sung is Let This Be Your Prayer.

9:39 - After the musical piece, Malawi President Joyce Banda will speak. 

9:37 - Desalegn: We salute you Madiba. May his soul rest in eternal peace. 

9:37 - Desalegn: Mandela’s legacy will live on.

9:36 - 

9:35 - Desalegn: As a true leader and personification of the ANC, his life represented what was promising to the continent.

9:35 - Desalegn: Madiba's life was the mirror image of the continent.

9:34 - 

9:33 - 

9:32 - Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (the AU Chairperson)now paying tribute.

9:29 - Lovely to hear such personal stories about Madiba from Nandi Mandela. Lovely speech. 

9:29 - Nandi: We shall miss your voice, your laughter.. We will carry on the lessons that you taught us.

9:28 - Nandi: We must live by example as Mandela did.

9:27 - Nandi: At a dinner party, he stunned hosts at a banquet when he wanted to be taken to the kitchen to thank the staff.

9:27 - Nandi: He went to school bare feet yet he rose to the highest office of the land.

9:26 - Nandi: He was strict grandfather. He was a disciplinarian who prepared us for life. He used to tell grandchildren to pick up clothes.

9:25 - Nandi: Few know about his mischief. With a twinkle in his eye, he once asked a woman what she thought about Ndaba (his grandson).

9:25 - Nandi: One of his favourite stories was chasing a piece of chicken around a plate, while trying to impress a girl’s family.

9:24 - Nandi: At dinner, he enjoyed telling stories about his childhood, particularly ones that poked fun of himself.

9:24 - Nandi: People always talk about his achievement and his serious side. Tata was a lot of fun to be around.

9:23 - Nandi: He demanded respect. When Hani was killed, he pleaded with the country to remain calm and the people listened.

9:23 - Nandi: For many years, he made sure that the children of Qunu had a beautiful Christmas.

9:22 - Nandi: We have learned some valuable lessons from him. He truly cared.

9:22 - Nandi: We are proud of his achievements and want to make him proud.

9:21 - Mandela is survived by his wife Graca, three daughters, 18 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

9:19 - Nandi Mandela to pay a tribute on behalf of children and grandchildren.

9:17 - Ndaba's speech almost entirely lacking in emotion. Makes quite a change from Kathrada's heartfelt words. 

9:16 - Ndaba tracking his grandfather's well-known history. 

9:14 - Ndaba Mandela: The story of Mandela is the story of South Africa

9:12 - Ndaba Mandela now addressing mourners. 

9:10 - Choir sings a hymn.

9:09 - Kathrada: My life is in a void and I don't know who to turn to.

9:08 - Kathrada: Farewell my brother, my mentor, my leader.

9:07 - Kathrada gives condolences to Graca Machel.

9:07 - Kathrada: Mandela’s death "united the people of South Africa and the entire world on a scale never before witnessed in history.

9:06 - Kathrada: In last few days masses of our people have demonstrated how connected they feel to you.

9:06 - Kathrada: Our last final moments together. Humility, courage, care, justice, equality etc continually serve as source of strength.

9:04 - Kathrada's voice breaks as he thanks his "elder brother" Madala, as he lovingly calls Mandela.

9:04 - Kathrada: He was my elder brother. 

9:03 - Kathrada: We are deeply grateful to the chapter 9 institutions who jealously guard our Constitution. 

9:02 - Kathrada: We are deeply grateful that dignity has been restored to all South Africans. 

9:02 - 

9:01 - Kathrada mentions anti-apartheid activists who have past on. Mandela has joined them now, he says.

9:01 - Kathrada: Mandela has now gone to join the A-team of the ANC in heaven.

9:00 - Kathrada: What I saw [in hospital] was a man who was reduced to a shadow of himself. 

8:59 - Kathrada recalls the prisoner who "easily wielded the pick and shovel".

8:58 - Kathrada speaks about the last time he saw Madiba. "It was profoundly heartbreaking." His voice is breaking. So more tears for us then. 

8:58 - Applause for Kathrada. 

8:56 - Ahmed Kathrada to speak now. Madiba's friend for many years. 

8:55 - Matanzima said earlier: Mandela made our name as family a global brand.

8:54 - Ramaphosa mentions more dignitaries in attendance. 

8:54 - 

8:53 - 

8:52 - 

8:49 - He asks medical staff who looked after Mandela to stand up - they receive a round of applause.

8:48 - Matanzima: Mandela's spirit should unite his family and the country.

8:47 - Matanzima: What happened in that stadium was a shame to Mandela. (Assume he's talking about the FNB Stadium memorial)

8:46 - Matanzima is a cousin of Madiba, says the BBC. 

8:45 - Matanzima praises Mandela as a strong man, a man of the Thembu tribe who spoke Xhosa.

8:42 - 

8:41 - Chief Ngangomhlaba Mahanzima addresses everyone now. 

8:39 - A representative of the Mandela family makes his way to the podium as the choir sings. 

8:38 - Mandela will be buried at high noon, "when the sun is at its highest, when the shadow is at its shortest", says Ramaphosa. 

8:37 - Ramaphosa acknowledging dignitaries in attendance. 

8:32 - 

8:31 - Ninety-five candles lit in marquee for Mandela, says Cyril Ramaphosa.

8:31 - Ndaba Mandela hasn't taken his sunglasses off. 

8:29 - Makaziwe being comforted as recording of children singing plays.

8:28 - A recording of children singing for Mandela. More tears. 

8:27 - It truly is magnificent. 

8:26 - 

8:25 - 

8:24 - Rev Nyobole: Dear God, we celebrate your little incarnation Mandela. We celebrate his courage to endure persecution. 

8:21 - 

8:20 - Rev Nyobole now leading mourners in prayer. 

8:20 - 

8:18 - Reverend Vuyani Nyobole from the Methodist Church (of which Madiba was a member) speaks now.

8:16 - The choir is pitch perfect. Not a person out of place. Awesome. 

8:15 - Now for the national anthem. Everyone stands. 

8:15 - 

8:12 - Mbete speaks to mourners. Talks about a "river of tears". Indeed.  

8:11 - The choir is singing a hymn called Lizalis'idinga lakho

8:11 - Well, there's no stopping the tears now.

8:10 - Military officials are now carrying the coffin into the marquee. The choir sings. 

8:09 - Mbete asking the choir to sing as the coffin is brought into the marquee.

8:08 - Baleka Mbete is now addressing mourners. Candles flicker behind her.

8:08 - The coffin has now reached the entrance of the marquee.

8:07 - The coffin, on the gun carriage, looks weirdly small.

8:04 - 

8:01 - We're all feeling a bit emotional as we see the coffin being led up to the marquee and the band plays that mournful tune. 

7:58 - The procession walks a bit slower. A solemn tune now plays.

7:56 - 

7:50 - The coffin, draped in a South African flag, is being carried on the back of a gun carriage. A helicopter can be heard flying overhead. 

7:49 - The coffin is making its way to the marquee. A more jaunty tune now plays. 

7:46 - The band plays a mournful tune. Canons fire.

7:45 - Prince Albert of Monaco is sitting next to former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda.

7:44 - 

7:34 - Richard Branson is said to be wearing a typical Madiba shirt. 

7:33 - Cyril Ramaphosa is asking everyone to take their seats now. 

7:32 - 

7:31 - 

7:31 - The doors are the marquee should be closing now. 

7:29 - Here is the full programme for Madiba's funeral.

7:19 - 

7:17 - 

7:16 - 

7:16 - ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe is singing with the ANC Women's League in the dome. 

7:11 - Mandela's longtime friend Ahmed Kathrada has arrived. 

7:07 - Angie Motshekga is leading a group of ANC Women's League members in song.

7:06 - Beautiful sounds of song from inside the Madiba Dome in Qunu.

7:05 - 

7:01 - At the gravesite, the flag and medals are removed and handed to chief of the SANDF, and the president to be given to next-of-kin, tweets Power FM.

6:59 - There is a wall of candles, flames flickering behind the place Madiba's casket will stand inside the funeral tent. Guests continue to arrive.

6:58 - 

6:56 - Desmond Tutu has just arrived in Mthatha with Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel.

6:55 - Doves are flying in the sunny skies of Qunu. A beautiful sight.

6:53 - Lots of ANC officials seen arriving in Mthatha now.

6:49 - 

6:47 - The military bands are still playing in Qunu. What an honour it must be to play for Tata Madiba.

6:46 - After some confusion on Saturday, Desmond Tutu is on his way to Qunu.

6:45 - 

6:43 - At about 07:30, the casket will be placed on a gun carriage and driven to a marquee where funeral service will take place, says EWN's Alex Eliseev.

6:35 - A marching band made up of soldiers and navy personnel is playing a tune in the streets of Qunu. 

6:33 - Rain was forecast for today (Sunday) but it's sunny skies all round in Qunu. 

6:28 -

6:26 - It's a beautiful morning in Qunu, says Patric Solomons.

6:22 - The airspace around Qunu will be closed shortly after the last flight has landed. The funeral marquee doors have just opened. Mourners must be seated by 07:00.

6:17 - British actor Idris Elba, who has received a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of Mandela, is also on his way to Qunu.

6:15 - President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe have just landed. They are now en route to Qunu.

6:12 - Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey also landed earlier along with US actor Forest Whitaker. Her partner Steadman and best friend Gayle King are also there.

6:10 - A number of dignitaries, including Malawian President Joyce Banda and our former president Thabo Mbeki have arrived in the Eastern Cape.

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