South Africa: Mandela buried in Qunu

Mandela body arriving ancestral home Photo: CBCnews

The body of Nelson Mandela, former South African president, has been laid to rest at his ancestral home, Qunu. His body was buried in a family plot, on Sunday, bringing to an end, 10 days of state funeral that attracted the largest number of world leaders for a single event in many years.

The BBC reports that his widow, Graca Machel, and President Jacob Zuma were present for the private, traditional Xhosa burial at Mr Mandela’s ancestral home in Qunu.

Update 1
After declaring that he will not attend the funeral of his long-time friend, Nelson Mandela, because he did not receive an invitation, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has confirmed that he will be at the funeral of the late anti-apartheid leader which commenced on Sunday morning with about 4,500 attendees, the BBC is reporting.

Mr. Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, said on Saturday that he has cancelled his flight to The Eastern Cape, as he didn’t want to “gate-crash” the funeral. South African newspaper, Mail and Guardian described it as “a politically motivated snub.”

Mr. Tutu is an outspoken critic of the ruling ANC. He also condemned Mandela’s family for instituting a legal battle while Mr. Mandela was receiving treatment in hospital.

“Much as I would have loved to attend the service to say a final farewell to someone I loved and treasured, it would have been disrespectful to Tata (Mandela) to gatecrash what was billed as a private family funeral,” Mr. Tutu said.

However, the South African government said that the archbishop was accredited and that no formal invitation was needed to attend the funeral.

Meanwhile, the final funeral rite of Mr. Mandela is expected to commence at 6.00 GMT on Sunday morning when his body arrives at the Eastern Cape airport.

Over 4,500 dignitaries are expected to attend the event – a mixture of traditional funeral rite and state burial in his ancestral home in Qunu.

On Saturday night, Mandela’s Thembu community conducted a traditional Xhosa ceremony that included song and poem recounting Mandela’s life and his achievements.

An ox will be slaughtered during the traditional rites and his coffin will be draped with a lion’s skin to communicate “with the body’s spirit.”

Mandela’s coffin was flown home from Waterkloof airbase in Pretoria on a C13 military aircraft accompanied by two fighter jets.

His body was accompanied by his grandson, Mandla, in accordance with the tradition of custom of the Xhosa.

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