QUNU – Nelson Mandela has been laid to rest in his ancestral village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
Mandela’s coffin was brought to his funeral by the military – a last chance for the people of Qunu to see it. In the hills above the village, lay a flag with a simple message: “Hamba kahle Madiba” – Go well, father of the nation.We’ll miss your smile, your laugh, your love and your leadership. Hamba kahle, Madiba.His abaThembu brethren buried him in front of family and close comrades in the ANC.
SA National Defence Force chaplain Reverend Monwabisi Jamangile said at the burial that Mandela had truly achieved ultimate freedom.
“We will remember Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela,” he said while praying for him before his coffin was lowered into the grave.
“Rest in peace. Yours was truly a long walk to freedom and now you have achieved the ultimate freedom in the bosom of your leader, God Almighty.”
Jamangile asked that God soothe the family in this time of grief, when their longing for Mandela became unbearable.
The military honour guard marked the occasion by firing a 21 gun salute.
President Jacob Zuma, Mandela’s widow Graça Machel and his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela were among the 4,500 dignitaries who attended the preceding funeral service.
Madiba’s close friend, Ahmed Kathrada, spoke of visiting him in hospital and how Madiba’s death left him feeling abandoned.
“How I wish I could not have seen what I saw, a man reduced to a shadow of his former self,” Kathrada said. “Farewell, my brother, my mentor, my leader. When Walter [Sisulu] died I lost a father, when Nelson died, I lost a brother. My life is in a void and I don’t know who to turn to.”
Zuma began his tribute with a moving hymn, saying his final farewell to Mandela.
“We’ll miss your smile, your laugh, your love and your leadership. Hamba kahle, Madiba.”