Sunday, December 15, 2013

Photos: Nelson Mandela laid to rest

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, was laid to rest today, after a state funeral filled with tearful tributes and vows to pursue his ideals of equality and justice.

The specially constructed marquee venue held 4,500 people, with pride of place going to Mandela's family, including his widow Graca Machel and ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Top government officials and foreign dignitaries and celebrities, ranging from Britain's Prince Charles to US talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, were also in attendance.

Mandela's flag-draped casket was brought to the ceremony on a gun carriage as the 21-gun salute rang out over the surrounding hills of Eastern Cape province.

The graveyard sits on the sprawling family estate Mandela built in Qunu after his release from prison in 1990.

As the coffin was lowered into the ground, a formation of military aircraft -- six jets with one spot left vacant in a symbol of a missing man -- flew overhead.
Below are photos taken at the state funeral;

Nelson Mandela spent much of his childhood in the small, Eastern Cape village of Qunu - a place he chose to return to after his release from prison. The ceremony was held in a marquee constructed for the event.

The President of South Africa Jacob Zuma began his address in song and was joined by the audience. He went on to say. "We wish today to express two simple words: thank you. Thank you for being everything that we wanted and needed in a leader during a difficult time in our lives. Whilst the long walk to freedom has ended in the physical sense our own journey continues."

Following his speech President Zuma received thanks from Mr Mandela's former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Outside the marquee people gathered to watch the ceremony on big screens.

Some laid flowers and held portraits...

Nelson Mandela's former wife Winnie Mandela Madikizela (left) and his widow Graca Machel watched as Mr Mandela's coffin arrived at the white marquee.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu - a long-time friend of Nelson Mandela - was also there, having earlier said he had cancelled his flight as he had not received an invitation.

Amongst those attending were US talk show host Oprah Winfrey and her husband Stedman Graham and English businessman Richard Branson (right).

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