South Africa

Nelson Mandela is laid to rest in his childhood home

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Nelson Mandela has today been buried in the remote village where the anti-apartheid icon grew up after a four-hour state funeral attended by thousands of mourners.

South Africa’s first black president died in his Johannesburg home on December 5 at the age of 95 after a long battle with illness, and he was laid to rest in his grave in Qunu in Eastern Cape province after ten days of mourning in his beloved country.

Troops lined the route up to the hillside where he was buried as Mandela was carried on a gun carriage to a plot on his family’s estate.

As his body was placed on the grave the South African flag on the coffin was removed and handed to Mandela’s widow Graca Machel, who was comforted by his ex-wife Winnie Mandela.

A fly-past then followed accompanied by a 21-gun salute and a solitary trumpeter played the Last Post while his body was lowered into the ground.

As he was buried armed forces Chaplain General Monwabisi Jamangile said: ‘Yours was truly a long walk to freedom, and now you have achieved the ultimate freedom, in the bosom of your maker.’

His funeral was also marked by his Xhosa tribe whose elders traditionally slaughter an ox to accompany the deceased’s spirit after burial, while guests are asked to drink its blood from a communal bowl.

But it is understood dignitaries such as Prince Charles were likely to be offered the animal’s meat to eat instead after it was cooked on an open fire.

Mandela’s family also talked to him until he was lowered into the earth and will have said ‘Madiba, we are now burying you,’ a tradition followed so the souls of the dead know where they are going in the afterlife.
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