Nelson Mandela, fondly known as Madiba, became South Africa’s first black president in 1994. He was buried on Sunday in his childhood village of Qunu in Eastern Cape province.
His burial concluded 10 days of mourning that followed his death on Dec. 5 at the age of 95. He received a state burial characterized by a traditional ceremony and a 21-gun salute. Military helicopters also flew by the burial ceremony carrying the national flag.
“A great tree has fallen, he is now going home to rest with his forefathers,” said Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, a representative of Mandela’s family. “We thank them for lending us such an icon.” South African’s were bidding farewell to their fallen hero for the last time; a man who had brought them freedom against all odds.
Mandela’s portrait could be seen erected over a white marquee just behind a row of 95 candles representing his age at death. His casket was transported to a tent using a gun carriage, wrapped in the national flag and placed on a carpet made of cow skin.
The ceremony attracted tens of thousands of mourners including friends, relatives, heads of state, and South African citizens among others. The eyes of Graca Machel, Mandela’s widow, were covered with a handkerchief for much of the ceremony.
For those who could not access the burial ceremony venue, big screens were placed in the area to broadcast the event live, including one screen that was placed on a hill in Qunu.
Mandela’s tenacious fight for freedom from the yolks of apartheid earned him 27 years in prison. He was instrumental in helping to end South Africa’s racial segregation. Mandela died a hero and an icon of civil rights and the struggle against apartheid.
(main image via YouTube)