Nelson Mandela Laid to Rest In His Home Village

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 15 2013 1:13 PM

Nelson Mandela Laid to Rest In His Home Village

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The coffin of former president Nelson Mandela is carried for a traditional burial during his funeral in Qunu

Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

South Africa bid a final farewell to anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela, who was buried at his ancestral home in Qunu after a state funeral that combined elements of Christian tradition with rituals of the AbaThembu community into which the former president was born, reports the New York Times. Family members, local dignitaries and foreign visitors—including Prince Charles, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Oprah Winfrey, to name a few—joined together to bid farewell to South Africa’s “father of the nation” in a state funeral attended by some 4,500 people. In the end, Archbishop Desmond Tutu did attend the funeral after having said a day earlier he had not been invited.

The funeral and traditional burial that took place on Sunday went much more smoothly than Tuesday’s public memorial that was filled with problems, reports the Associated Press. For his part, President Jacob Zuma seems to have learned from his mistakes. Zuma was not just booed on Tuesday, but had also been heavily criticized for what many described as a flat speech that seemed to lack emotion. On Sunday he “electrified the mourners” by singing in tribute to Mandela and then got personal in his speech in which he talked about Mandela’s ability to forgive those who had wronged him, reports the Los Angeles Times.  

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After the state funeral, some 450 mourners took part in the private burial ceremony, in which military traditions were evident. Three army helicopters flew overhead bearing the South African flag as Mandela’s coffin was lowered into a grave site where three of the former president’s children are buried. There was also a 21-gun salute right before five fighter jets flew in a low formation over the hills, notes Reuters.  And with that ceremony ended the 10 days of mourning and ceremony to bid farewell to Mandela. Now some residents of Qunu hope that Mandela’s grave will be an economic boon to the area, notes the Washington Post. “This will be a changed place,” predicted a local teacher. “Generations to come, there will be Nelson Mandela.”

See a selection of photographs from the funeral after the jump:

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South Africa President Jacob Zuma (2L), the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela Madikizela (L), and the widow of Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel (3L), sit by the coffin of former president Nelson Mandela during his funeral ceremony

Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

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People prepare to watch the funeral of former South African President Nelson Mandela

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

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The coffin of South African former president Nelson Mandela is seen during his funeral ceremony

Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

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Oprah Winfrey attends the funeral ceremony

Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

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Zulu tribe members celebrate as the coffin is carried to his burial site

Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

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A military flypast as the funeral service takes place

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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