The coffin of Nelson Mandela rested as is traditional for a tribal chief on a leopard skin in the centre of a huge marquis which was specially built in Qunu to hold over 4,000 invited guests at his State Funeral.
Ninety five candles burned reflecting each year of Nelson Mandela’s remarkable life.
Heads of state spoke during the final ceremony of mourning for the former president. So too did friends and family.
One of the opening tributes was from Ahmed Kathrada who was a fellow prisoner on Robben Island. It was a deeply personal and moving speech to the man he knew as a brother and who he had accompanied during many of his struggles.
“Madiba we may be drowning in sorrow and grief. We must be proud and grateful that after a long walk paved with obstacles and suffering we can salute you as a fighter for freedom in the end. Farewell my dear brother, my mentor, my leader,” he said.
Tribal traditions peppered the formalities. One of his granddaughters, Ndaba remembered a humble and loving grandfather who enjoyed recalling childhood stories of growing up in Qunu. He was also 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,” she said.
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, the melody of Madiba.