QUNU, South Africa (AP) — Anti-apartheid champion Nelson Mandela was buried in his home village on Sunday after a funeral that mixed ancient tribal rituals with a display of the might of the new, integrated South Africa.
Military officers, both black and white, rolled Mandela’s flag-draped coffin to the family burial plot in the village of Qunu. Formations of planes and military helicopters, South African flags flapping from the bellies, flew over the green hills where thousands of mourners had gathered.
Unlike a public memorial service on Tuesday at a stadium that was rife with problems, the funeral and burial — broadcast on many TV channels — went smoothly, although behind schedule. The ceremonies mixed solemnity with joy at Mandela’s accomplishments, lasted all morning and into the afternoon and were fit for African royalty. Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, is descended from royalty.
Several thousand gathered in a huge white tent at the Mandela family compound for the state funeral that preceded a private service at the gravesite. Songs, speeches and the boom of artillery rang across the fields and a tribal chief draped in animal skin declared: “A great tree has fallen.”
Mandela, who spent 27 years in jail as a prisoner of the racist white government and emerged to lead a transition to a multiracial democracy, died on Dec. 5 at the age of 95 after a long illness.
His portrait looked over the assembly in the tent from behind a bank of 95 candles representing each year of his remarkable life. His casket, transported to the tent on a gun carriage, rested on a carpet of cow skins below a lectern where speakers delivered eulogies.
Ahmed Kathrada, an anti-apartheid activist who was jailed on Robben Island with Mandela, remembered his old friend’s “abundant reserves” of love, patience and tolerance. He said it was painful when he saw Mandela for the last time, months ago in his hospital bed. Some listeners wiped away tears as Kathrada spoke.
“He tightly held my hand, it was profoundly heartbreaking,” Kathrada said, his voice quavering with emotion. “How I wish I never had to confront what I saw. I first met him 67 years ago and I recall the tall, healthy strong man, the boxer, the prisoner who easily wielded the pick and shovel when we couldn’t do so.”
The songs and speeches in the tent ceremony were broadcast on big screens in the area, including at one spot on a hill overlooking Mandela’s property. Several hundred people gathered there, some wearing colors of the African National Congress — the liberation movement-turned political part that Mandela used to lead — and occasionally breaking into song.
“A great tree has fallen, he is now going home to rest with his forefathers,” said Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, a representative of Mandela’s family. “We thank them for lending us such an icon.”
Mandela’s widow, Grace Machel, and his second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, were dressed in black and sat on either side of South African President Jacob Zuma.
Guests included veterans of the military wing of the African National Congress, the liberation movement that became the dominant political force after the end of apartheid, as well as U.S. Ambassador Patrick Gaspard and other foreign envoys. Britain’s Prince Charles, Monaco’s Prince Albert II, U.S. television personality Oprah Winfrey, billionaire businessman Richard Branson and former Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai were also there.
After the ceremony in the tent, a smaller group of guests walked to a family grave site.
Bayanda Nyengule, head of the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha and Qunu, was one of the eyewitnesses to the private burial.
“I realized that the old man is no more, no more with us you know,” Nyengule said. “The moment when the coffin went down into the ground I felt too … emotional.”
Mandela was co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize along with F.W. de Klerk, the last president of the apartheid government, for his efforts at bringing about a peaceful transition in South Africa. He had emerged from prison in 1990 advocating forgiveness and reconciliation, and became president after South Africa’s first all-race elections, in 1994. He served one five-year term.
The burial ended 10 days of mourning ceremonies that included a massive stadium memorial in Johannesburg and three days during which Mandela’s body lay in state in the capital, Pretoria.
While South Africa faces many problems, including crime, unemployment and economic inequality, Mandela is seen by many compatriots as the father of their nation and around the world as an example of the healing power of reconciliation.
Celebrities React to Nelson Mandela's Death Via Social Media
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1. Beyonce Instagrammed this photo with the message: "Thank you for all you have sacrificed to improve the lives of other human beings. Rest in peace."
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2. Beyonce also Instagrammed this photo along with the message: "God Bless"
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3. President Obama Tweeted: President Obama remembers Nelson Mandela: "A man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice."
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4. Rihanna Tweeted: "#NelsonMandela you made your people proud!! We'll always love you for it!"
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5. Rihanna also Instagrammed this photo with the message: One of the greatest men who's ever lived!!! #Legend We will never forget the things this man has taught us, and we will never truly comprehend the level of strength that it took for him to endure many of his years!! Thank you #Mandela.
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6. Queen Latifah Tweeted: "God Bless You Mr. Nelson Mandela! Your Strength, Humanity, Intelligence, Honesty and #TrueGrit are unmatched in my lifetime! RIP&Love."
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7. Jamie Foxx Tweeted: "Thank you for your mark you left on humanity Mr. Mandela. Prayers to his family, friends and the people of South Africa."
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8. Jennifer Lopez Tweeted: "It always seems impossible until it's done." Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela. You will be missed. #trueinspiration #peoplewhochangetheworld."
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9. R. Kelly Tweeted: "To the Mandela family, may God keep you in perfect peace at this time. For God has chosen a soldier. "
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10. Janelle Monae Tweeted: "1 of the most important&greatest individuals to walk on this Earth. Nelson Mandela. He walked the walk. He was 4 THE PEOPLE. Nelson Mandela."
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11. Kerry Washington Instagrammed this photo with the message: "RIP Nelson Mandela. God Bless You."
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12. Khloe Kardashian Tweeted: "An amazing man with great wisdom. Rest in peace Nelson Mandela."
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13. Pitbull Tweeted: "RIP Nelson Mandela. You are now truly free. God Bless and enjoy the heavens. Tell Celia Cruz hello for me and azucaaaaarrrr"
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14. Katie Couric Tweeted: "If people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love." - #NelsonMandela, RIP & may your words live on... "
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15. Ludacris Tweeted: "Honored that I had a chance to meet this amazing influential being & to participate in his 46664 Aids benefit concert in South Africa. You will live on thru your work for eternity. R.I.P. Nelson Mandela."
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16. NeNe Leakes Tweeted: "RIP Nelson Mandela"
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17. Nas tweeted: "Thank you Nelson Mandela. All the best on your transition."
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18. Gwyneth Paltrow Tweeted: "'Your playing small does not serve the world'. #RIPMandela"
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19. Gabourey Sidibe Tweeted: "'The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.' -Nelson Mandela. Thank you for your bravery."
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20. John Legend Tweeted: "What a heroic, beautiful life Mandela lived. Rest in peace."
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21. Samuel L. Jackson Tweeted: "Never met a better person in my life than Nelson Mandela. My sympathy to his family & his country."
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22. Charlize Theron Tweeted: "My thoughts and love go out to the Mandela family. Rest in Peace Madiba. You will be missed, but your impact on this world will live forever"
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23. Diddy Tweeted: "Nelson Mandela has just passed away. Rest In Peace to a true revolutionary and inspiration to the World. He was 95 years old. #RIPMandela."
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24. Diddy also Instagrammed this photo with the message: "This man stood for justice and honor!! Today we lost a beautiful soul, inspiration and a true KING! #RIPMandela."
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25. Kendrick Lamar Tweeted: "Advising all my young ones that follow me to research a small piece of Nelson Mandela Life. That's how you pay your respect...... GO!"
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26. Amerie Tweeted: "Rest in peace to a great, great man. The world thanks you."
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27. Q-Tip Tweeted: "A true fighter in every sense of the word... MANDELA!"
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28. Eva Longoria Tweeted: "Today the world lost one it's greatest leaders. Rest in peace Mandela..."
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29. Russell Simmons Tweeted: "When people are determined they can overcome anything." Nelson Mandela."
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30. Anderson Cooper Tweeted: "Mandela is gone. There is no one else like him."
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31. Brian White Tweeted: "Always remembered! #RoleModel #RIP"
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32. Tyra Banks Tweeted this photo with the message: "He lives within us forever. We will never forget. "
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33. Talib Kweli Tweeted: "Today marks the passing of one of the greatest freedom fighters history has ever known. We love you Nelson Mandela. #ripmadiba."
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34. Wayne Brady Tweeted: "RIP Nelson Mandela. Selfless humanitarian. Leader."
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35. Busta Rhymes Tweeted: "RIP 2 ONE OF OUR LAST TRULY GREAT KINGS AND GOD OF OUR UNIVERSE, THE LATE GREAT NELSON MANDELA!!! I WILL 4EVER LOVE U GREAT MAN & GREAT MIND."
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36. Fergie Tweeted: "Meeting Nelson Mandela at his house in Johannesburg was a truly memorable moment in life for me. He was an angel. "
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37. Omarion Tweeted: "Thank you Mandela #RIPMandela rest in love."
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38. LL Cool J Tweeted: "Nelson Mandela. What a difference one person can make. #RestEternally"
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39. Lindsay Lohan Tweeted: "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination." #RIPNelsonMandela
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40. Luke James: "Thank You Nelson Mandela, Rest In Peace."
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30 Best Nelson Mandela Quotes
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1. "It always seems impossible until it is done. "-Nelson Mandela
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2. "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination." -Nelson Mandela
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3. "Any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose." -Nelson Mandela
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4. "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." -Nelson Mandela
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5. "After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb." -Nelson Mandela
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6. "Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mind cannot be separated." -Nelson Mandela
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7. "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children." -Nelson Mandela
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8. "In my country we go to prison first and then become President." -Nelson Mandela
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9. "Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement." -Nelson Mandela
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10. "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." -Nelson Mandela
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11. "I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances."-Nelson Mandela
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12. "If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness & Forgiveness."-Nelson Mandela
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13. "Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all."- Nelson Mandela
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14. "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."-Nelson Mandela
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15. "I have retired, but if there's anything that would kill me is to wake up in the morning not knowing what to do. "-Nelson Mandela
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16. "I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people."-Nelson Mandela
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17. "Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another."-Nelson Mandela
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18. "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."-Nelson Mandela
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19. "Give a child love, laughter and peace, not AIDS."-Nelson Mandela
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20. "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner."-Nelson Mandela
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21. "I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities."-Nelson Mandela
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22. "I dream of the realization of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses."-Nelson Mandela
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23. "I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself."-Nelson Mandela
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24. "We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right."-Nelson Mandela
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25. "I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man."-Nelson Mandela
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26. "There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."-Nelson Mandela
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27. "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."- Nelson Mandela
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28. "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered. "-Nelson Mandela
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29. "Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future."-Nelson Mandela
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30. "Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace. "-Nelson Mandela
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