Mandela for private burial today

After 10 days of sober and glamorous activities that attracted hundreds of world leaders and celebrities from different continents, anti-apartheid icon, Nelson Mandela will be buried today in his hometown, Qunu. Ninety-one president are expected at the final burial. Since he died, tributes have streamed from virtually every part of the planet, celebrating South Africa’s first democratically elected president. Part of the activities saw thousands queue to pay their last respect to Madiba

Private burial

South Africans will not be able to see Nelson Mandela’s remains being laid to rest, with his actual burial a strictly private, family affair, a government spokesperson said on Friday.

At least 5 000 people, including foreign dignitaries and senior political figures, are expected to attend Sunday’s funeral ceremony in Mandela’s boyhood home Qunu.

Once the initial public service has been completed, however, the moment of interment will, at the family’s request, be a purely private affair, spokesperson Phumla Williams told AFP.

“The family has indicated they want to make the burial a family matter,” Williams said.

“They don’t want it to be televised. They don’t want people to see when the body is taken down.”

After three days of lying in state in the capital Pretoria, Mandela’s casket will be flown to Qunu early on Saturday morning.

A special stage and marquee have been erected for the two-hour public funeral service which begins at 8am on Sunday.

Preparations for former South African President Nelson Mandela’s funeral at his family farm are complete, a family spokesman said Thursday.

“At the moment, we are just awaiting for safety engineers to inspect the tent and issue a safety certificate,” family spokesman Bantu Holomisa said. “We are hoping that the weather can clear today or tomorrow but we are happy with the work on the ground.”

The weather is expected to clear by the funeral, set for Sunday.

Despite the consistent rain in the village of Qunu, workers have completed building an arena, which is expected to accommodate 4,000 guests, reported.

According to, the arena overlooks the Mandela residence and is just a few feet away from where Mandela will be buried.

News 24 reported that workers Thursday tested sound equipment and caterers arrived.

Police and military personnel surround the residence and have been searching every vehicle.

Funeral arrangements

Also on Friday, the SA National Defence Force said preparations for the state funeral of former president Nelson Mandela was going on well.

“Everything is on track in terms of arrangements for the funeral,” spokesperson Lieutenant t-General XolaniMabangu said.

Friday was the third and final day in which Mandela’s body will lie in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

The body was returned to One Military Hospital overnight and was flown to the Eastern Cape on Saturday.

“Tomorrow [Saturday] at the Waterkloof Military Airbase… the body will be formally and officially handed over to the ANC [for them] to conduct their ceremony in honour of him,” said Mabangu.

He said chief mourners among the Madiba clan and Mandela family, as well as senior government officials, would accompany the body.

The New Age reported that all AbaThembu traditions would be observed once the body arrived at the Mthatha Airport on Saturday morning.

Spending for events

Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters cautioned government on Friday against the excessive use of public funds for commemorative events for former president Nelson Mandela.

“This must be vexing to the soul of a man who always insisted on being humble, but also to always put the vulnerable first,” spokesperson MbuyiseniNdlozi said in a statement.

“It cannot be that governments of provinces, municipalities and the national government has been spending on organising reparative events that include music concerts where artists, events managers are taking home millions of public funds.”

The EFF said spending exorbitantly on events was not a good way to honour Mandela.

“It would not be justifiable that in the end, when all is said and done, the total expenditure on commemorations comes to billions of rands,” it said.

It also called for a planned music concert by the Gauteng government to be cancelled.

“Furthermore, EFF calls on municipalities to subject themselves to provincial government memorial events. South Africa must honour Mandela, and do so meekly.”

On Thursday, Malema, who was expelled as the governing African National Congress Youth League president, visited Mandela’s house in Houghton, and attended the lying in state in Pretoria.

“Thank you [Mandela] for ushering in political freedom… Those who came after you failed to deliver economic freedom,” he said outside the house.

“We are picking up this battle…Viva the militant Nelson Mandela, viva,” he said.

Traditional burial rituals

Nelson Mandela will be laid to rest on Sunday in an elaborate ceremony combining a state funeral and all its military pomp with the traditional burial rituals of his Xhosa clan to ensure he has an easy transition into the afterworld.

Many South Africans will revere Mandela, who during his life became a global symbol of peace and reconciliation, even more now that he has died, since ancestors are widely believed to have a guiding, protective role over the living.

According to Reuters, around 46 per cent of the population practises some form of traditional African religions, according to a 2010 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, a Washington-based research centre. The same report said 87 per cent of South Africans self-identify as Christians and only four percent as animists, meaning many combine beliefs and customs of Christianity with their older tribal traditions.

He will be buried by his family following their traditional burial rites on Sunday in Qunu, their ancestral home in the rural Eastern Cape province, 700 km (450 miles) south of Johannesburg.

If the rites are not carried out, the abaThembu believe the dead will come back in spirit to demand they are performed.

“We as Africans have rites of passage, whether it is a birth, marriage or funeral. Mandela will be sent off into the spiritual world so that he is welcomed in the world of ancestors. And also so that he doesn’t get angry,” said NokuzolaMndende, a scholar of African religion.

“His wrath won’t be on the state if these ceremonies don’t take place, it will be on his children,” Mndende said.

A man who for many embodied the Christian values of forgiveness, Mandela was the product of Xhosa traditional upbringing and Methodist schooling.

In his autobiography ‘Long Walk to Freedom,’ Mandela spoke approvingly of the Xhosa rituals which his mother, a convert to the Methodist faith, resisted but his father followed, presiding over slaughter rituals and other traditional rites.

Coffin arrives Qunu for burial

Nelson Mandela’s coffin on Saturday arrived his ancestral home Qunu in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, the final leg of its journey.

Large numbers of people lined the roads in the rural region to pay their respects as the cortege passed by.

A state funeral will be held on Sunday (today) for Mandela, who died on December 5.

At least 100,000 people saw the former South African president’s body lying in state in Pretoria over the last three days, but some had to be turned away.

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, the coffin was flown from Waterkloof airbase in Pretoria on a C130 military aircraft, escorted by two fighter jets.

In line with tribal custom, Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla accompanied him on the journey, speaking to his coffin to tell him he was on his way home to rest.

It arrived in Mthatha, 700 km (450 miles) away at 13:37 local (11:37 GMT).

To solemn music, the coffin draped in a South African flag was moved by a military guard of honour and placed in a hearse to begin the 32km journey to Qunu, where Mr Mandela had said he wanted to be buried.

People waving flags and cheering and singing – in places 10 to 12 deep – lined the route taken by the cortege through Mthatha town to pay their last respects.

Tears as well as smiles could be seen on the faces of onlookers.

“He is finally coming home to rest, I can’t even begin to describe the feeling I have inside,” 31-year-old Bongani Zibi told Agence France Presse.

“Part of me is sad but I’m also happy that he has found peace.”

However, some people expressed their frustration that the convoy did not stop, so they had no chance to view the coffin as people in Pretoria had.

The cortege then drove through the gates of the Mandela homestead in Qunu, where it will rest overnight in the grounds of the royal house of Thembu.
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