South Africa buries ‘greatest son’ Nelson Mandela

South Africa buries ‘greatest son’ Nelson Mandela


South Africa held a state funeral for Nelson Mandela on Sunday,closing one chapter in its tortured history and opening another in which the multi-racial democracy he founded will have to discover if it can thrive without its central pillar. (Reuters)


The Nobel peace laureate,who was held in apartheid prisons for 27 years before emerging to preach forgiveness and reconciliation,was honoured with ceremonies that mixed military pomp with the traditional rites of his Xhosa abaThembu clan. (Reuters)


The funeral drew 4,500 guests,from relatives and South African leaders to Britain's Prince Charles,American civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson and talk show host Oprah Winfrey. (AP)


"The person who is lying here is South Africa's greatest son," Cyril Ramaphosa,deputy leader of South Africa's ruling ANC party who was acting as one of the masters of ceremonies,said as the service got under way.
Candles are lit under a portrait of former South African President Nelson Mandela before his funeral ceremony in Qunu. (Reuters)


Fellow anti-apartheid veteran Archbishop Desmond Tutu was also among those who arrived shortly after dawn at a vast,domed tent erected in a field near Mandela's home,having resolved a last-minute mix-up over his invitation.
Graca Machel,the widow of Nelson Mandela,is pictured during his funeral in his ancestral village of Qunu. (Reuters)


As Mandela's flag-draped coffin was borne from the house on a gun-carriage,a battery of cannons positioned on the hillside fired a 21-gun salute,sending booms echoing across the sun-drenched valley. (Reuters)


The coffin was followed into the huge tent,decked out inside in black,by Mandela's grandson and heir,Mandla,and South African President Jacob Zuma. It was then placed on black and white Nguni cattle skins in front of a ring of 95 candles as the service started with a choir singing Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika,the evocative national anthem adopted after the end of apartheid in 1994.
The casket of Nelson Mandela is transported on a gun carriage before his funeral service in Qunu. (AP)


Mandela died in Johannesburg on Dec. 5 aged 95,plunging his 53 million countrymen and millions more around the world into mourning,and triggering more than a week of official memorials to the nation's first black president.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela,left,Nelson Mandela's former wife,left and Nelson Mandela’s widow Graca Machel at his funeral service in Qunu. (AP)


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