South Africa buries Nelson Mandela at ancestral home: ‘A great tree has fallen’
By F. Brinley Bruton, Rohit Kachroo and Becky Bratu, NBC News
QUNU, South Africa – Speeches, songs and artillery fire rang out across Nelson Mandela’s ancestral home on Sunday as South Africa said a final farewell to the man who united the country when many thought it would descend into bloody conflict.
“A great tree has fallen,” declared a tribal chief during the funeral ceremony that included barnstorming speeches that referred to Mandela’s revolutionary past and the continent’s struggles to end European colonialism, as well as his impact around the globe.
“Millions of people around the world have had their own Madiba moment,” Cyril Ramaphosa, activist, trade union leader and politician said during the ceremony, referring to Mandela by his clan name.
“The person who lies here is South Africa’s greatest son,” he added, standing in front of a platform holding 95 lit candles, one for every year Mandela lived.
The funeral drew 4,500 guests, from relatives and South African leaders to Britain’s Prince Charles, U.S. civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson and talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Retired Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, fellow Nobel peace laureate and close friend of Mandela’s, also announced he would attend Mandela’s funeral, after an apparent misunderstanding about his attendance was resolved. Read More