Nelson Mandela laid to rest in Qunu

//Nelson Mandela laid to rest in Qunu

Nelson Mandela laid to rest in Qunu

The former South African President Nelson Mandela is being laid to rest in his ancestral home of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

The funeral is being attended by around 4,500 guests and dignitaries, who are joining family members.

The service is set to blend state ceremonial requirements with tribal tradition.

The Nobel peace laureate, who suffered 27 years in apartheid prisons before emerging to preach forgiveness and reconciliation, will be laid to rest after a state funeral mixing military pomp with the traditional rites of his XhosaabaThembu clan.

Fellow anti-apartheid veteran Archbishop Desmond Tutu was among those arriving shortly after dawn at a vast, domed tent erected in a field near Mr Mandela’s home, having resolved a mix-up over his invitation.

Mr Mandela died on 5 December aged 95, plunging his 53 million countrymen and millions more around the world into grief, and triggering more than a week of official memorials to the nation’s first black president.

As many as 100,000 people paid their respects in person to his lying in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where he was inaugurated as president in 1994, an event that brought the curtain down on more than three centuries of white domination.

When his body arrived yesterday at his ancestral home in Qunu, 700km south of Johannesburg, it was greeted by ululating locals overjoyed that Madiba, the clan name by which he was affectionately known, had “come home”.

Mr Mandela served just one term as leader of Africa’s biggest and most sophisticated economy, and formally withdrew from public life in 2004, famously telling reporters at the end of a farewell news conference: “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”

His last appearance in public was at the 2010 World Cup final in Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium, waving to fans from the back of a golf cart.

Yet such was his influence as the architect two decades ago of the historic reconciliation between blacks and whites that his passing has left a gaping hole in the heart of South Africa.

With an eye on elections in five months, the ruling African National Congress (ANC), the 101-year-old former liberation movement Mr Mandela once led, has seized on his death as a chance to shore up popularity that is ebbing even in its black support base.

The strategy has not been without its risks, not least because it has highlighted the gulf in stature between South Africa’s first black president and its fourth, the scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma.

Full Coverage of the funeral is being broadcast now on RTÉ One and RTÉ News Now.

RTÉ News – News Headlines

By | 2013-12-15T11:34:28+00:00 December 15th, 2013|Headlines|0 Comments