In The News

Funeral takes place of Nelson Mandela

Funeral takes place of Nelson Mandela

THE State Funeral has taken place of Nelson Mandela.

The ceremony of the former president, who passed away last Thursday aged 95, took place in his childhood village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

The coffin had rested overnight in the grounds of royal house of Thembu in Qunu before being taken by gun carriage to giant white marquee for the ceremony. 

Four thousand people attended the service. The Prince of Wales represented the Queen at the funeral.

After the State element of the service ended, Mr. Mandela's remains were then taken away for a short traditional Xhosa ceremoney for burial nearby.

Earlier in the week in Pretoria, more than 100,000 people had filed past the coffin during three days of lying in state. Thousands more were left disappointed when the lying state was brought to an end.

Four thousand people will attend the funeral tomorrow which will take the form of a traditional ceremony. The Prince of Wales will represent the Queen at the funeral.

The man who led South Africa from the shadow of apartheid to the modern democratic ‘Rainbow’ nation that it is today, died at his home in Johannesburg. He had been suffering from a lung infection for many months.

Born in 1926, Rolihlahia Mandela — the name Nelson was given to him by a teacher on his first day at school — the future President would eventually become a leading figure in the African National Congress and a fierce opponent of the minority white government. He studied law and used his skills to fight for justice for people who were victims of the oppressive restrictions imposed by apartheid. 

When the government outlawed the ANC, Mr. Mandela took his fight for freedom underground. However, despite shifting his support away from non-violent opposition he always maintained his belief in a multi-racial ideal. He said during his period: “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Initially jailed in 1962 for five years, after being convicted of inciting workers to strike and with leaving the country without valid documents, Mr. Mandela was then charged along with 8 others with sabotage. His conviction in 1964 resulted in a life sentence being imposed and he would not be freed until 1990 when he was 71.

After his release Mr. Mandela said: “I stand here before you, not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. I place the remaining years of my life in your hands”. 

At the time, as white minority rule was rapidly coming to an end, many people feared the country was going to be plunged into a bloody conflict. But it was Mr. Mandela’s vision for the future that was to win out and resulted in him being elected as President in 1994 — a year after he won the Nobel Peace Prize.  As he would later tell those involved in the Northern Ireland peace process: “You don’t make peace with your friends. You make peace with your enemies”. 

He used his five years in office to establish the new face of South Africa and win support for the united country around the world. After stepping down in 1999, Mr. Mandela remained active in a number of charitable organisations he had helped establish. But in 2004, at the age of 86, he announced that he was “retiring from retirement”, adding, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you”.

Following this he made considerably fewer appearances in public, although he continued his charity work especially his support for the aids awareness campaign 46664 [his old prison number] — one of the former president’s sons died from the disease.

In later years, Mr. Mandela’s health began to deteriorate and he had battled lung infections.

To view archive footage of an interview with Mr. Mandela, click here.

To see an excerpt from a documentary about Mr. Mandela, click here.

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