Nelson Mandela Buried After State Funeral
As Mandela was taken from Pretoria, where he lay in state for three days, to his home village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape, the chief of the clan, his grandson Mandla Mandela, and other elders were present. Dozens of family members were waiting at Nelson Mandelas homestead to receive his casket, where tradition called for the house to be freshly painted before he arrived, according to Qunu residents. A group of elders kept vigil with his body all night Saturday.
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A mourning nation prepares for Mandela funeral Dec. 15
“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 who wore an animal skin. “We thank them for lending us such an icon.” Another speaker, Zolani Mkiva, served for many years as Mandela’s praise singer, a traditional role in which he shouted out the leader’s attributes to audiences, prefacing Mandela’s many stations in life with the words “very important:” person, prince, patriot, politician, prisoner, philosopher, president, pensioner, patient, papa. “The bones of our ancestors are vibrating. The waves of African oceans are reverberating,” Mkiva said. In keeping with Xhosa traditions, Mandela’s casket was brought to Qunu Saturday draped in a lion skin, an honor bestowed on those of a high rank like Mandela, who is the son of a traditional clan chief. His body lay for the night in his family home before burial, a time when tradition dictates that family elders “talk” to the body to explain to his spirit what is happening. South African television showed Mandela’s casket at the family gravesite, but the broadcast was stopped just before the coffin was lowered into the ground at the request of the Mandela family, which often talked of how it had to share its patriarch with the nation and the world. His body was buried around noon, “when the sun is at its highest and the shadow at its shortest,” said Cyril Ramaphosa, deputy leader of the country’s ruling party, the African National Congress. Mandela spent 27 years as a prisoner of apartheid, then emerged to lead a delicate transition to democracy when many South Africans feared the country would sink into all-out racial conflict. He became president in the first all-race elections in 1994 and served one five-year term.
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