Qunu’s most famous son was home and the world was watching. On a hillside over looking the rural landscape of the Easter Cape Nelson Mandela was laid to rest.
It was a ceremony incorporating much military tradition,including a final fly past with the flag of the rainbow nation which Nelson Mandela had led to democracy.
It was here as a young boy, he wrote that he had learned to listen to tribal leaders before venturing his own opinions.
Earlier the coffin had been taken from a private ceremony in the Mandela home to a marquis, which had been specially built to hold the 4,500 invited guests to the State Funeral.
Tributes were paid from African presidents, and on of his granddaughters, Nandi remembered a disciplinarian who taught the family many lessons.
“We shall miss you ‘tatum kulu’. We shall miss your stern voice when you were not pleased with our behaviour. We will carry lessons that you taught us through our lives as we make you proud. As South Africans we must stop pointing fingers but rather we must lead by example as you did and do something positive for South Africa.”
Ninety five candles burned reflecting each year of his remarkable life and traditional music echoed around the marquis.
The izibongo, a song of praise in Xhosa, was sung before President Jacob Zuma spoke.
“We sincerely thank you for dedicating a life to building a free and democratic South Africa in which all shall live in equality and dignity. One thing we can assure you of today Tata as you take your final steps is that South Africa will continue to rise.”
The story of Nelson Mandela is so much the story of South Africa. The song has died, said one speaker but the melody will live on.