World bids farewell to Nelson Mandela

The funeral ends 10 days of national mourning and was preceded by a two-hour public ceremony with around 4,500 invited guests

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The body of Nelson Mandela was laid to rest on Sunday in a grave near his family homestead at Qunu in the South African province of Eastern Cape.

Mandela’s body was taken to his family plot for burial after a public state funeral ceremony which was held according to traditional Xhosa rites - the culture of an ethnic group of peoples indigenous to south-east South Africa.

Just after dawn, the family viewed the body and about 90 minutes later the casket was carried into a huge dome-shaped white marquee by men in military uniform.

The formal ceremony kicked off with an old Methodist Xhosa song whose lyrics translate as “fulfill your dreams.” The country’s national anthem was then sung in four of the country’s 11 official languages.

Speaking at the ceremony, South African President Jacob Zuma told the country that it was incumbent on everyone to carry on his legacy.

“We have to take the legacy forward,” Zuma told mourners.”South Africa will continue to rise.”

The funeral ends 10 days of national mourning and was preceded by a two-hour public ceremony attended by around 4,500 invited guests, including senior politicians and a posse of foreign dignitaries.

Guests included senior South African officials, Britain's Prince Charles, entrepreneur Richard Branson and former Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

The funeral itself was a private affair for family and close friends and was held on the sprawling family estate Mandela built in Qunu after his release from prison in 1990.

Organizers said around 450 people, including Mandela’s widow Graca Machel and ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, would participate in the private burial ceremony.

Overseen by male members of his clan, the ceremony included the slaughter of an ox - a ritual performed through various milestones of a person’s life, according to Agence Fance-Presse.

Mourners wore traditional Xhosa regalia, with blue and white beaded head gear and necklaces and during the ceremony Mandela was be referred to as Dalibhunga - the name given to him at the age of 16 after undergoing the initiation to adulthood.

Funeral plans were briefly overshadowed by public outcry after Mandela’s friend and fellow Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu said he had not been invited to attend the funeral.

However, late Saturday Tutu said that he would be attending the ceremony as the South African government brushed off the confusion as a mere misunderstanding

Tutu has been a persistent critic of President Jacob Zuma’s government and has also spoken against infighting in Mandela’s family.

(With AFP)

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