Delegates from the African National Congress transport the
coffin of Nelson Mandela at his home in the village of
Qunu, Eastern Cape as Mandela's grandson Mandla (R) looks
on. REUTERS/Elmond Jiyane/GCIS
The body of Nelson Mandela has arrived at his ancestral
home in the rolling hills of South Africa's Eastern Cape and
was greeted by singing, dancing locals ahead of the
anti-apartheid leader's state funeral set for the following
As the hearse bearing the remains of South Africa's first
black president appeared on the horizon, crowds by the road
broke into "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" (God Bless Africa), the
evocative national anthem adopted after the end of apartheid
"I'm so excited and at the same time I'm so hurt because I'm
seeing him for the last time," said grandmother Victoria
Ntsingo, as military helicopters escorting the cortege
"After his long life and illness he can now rest. Madiba is
home. His work is done," she said, referring to Mandela by
his clan name.
Mandela, who died on Dec. 5 aged 95, will be buried in his
family homestead on Sunday after a state funeral combining
military pomp and the traditional rites of his Xhosa
It will be the final act in ten days of mourning for the
'Father of the Nation', who suffered 27 years in prison
before emerging to preach forgiveness and reconciliation in
the quest to build a multi-racial democracy from the ashes of
But in a sign of tensions in South Africa's complicated
post-apartheid social fabric, there were suggestions that the
peace prevailing in Qunu, a hamlet of a few hundred houses
700 km (450 miles) south of Johannesburg, was not replicated
across the nation of 53 million.
Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a leading light of 'The
Struggle' while Mandela was in prison, said he had not been
invited to the funeral of "Tata", the Xhosa word for father
by which Mandela is affectionately known.
"Much as I would have loved to attend the service to say a
final farewell to someone I loved and treasured, it would
have been disrespectful to Tata to gatecrash what was billed
as a private family funeral," Tutu said in a statement.
"Had I or my office been informed that I would be welcome
there is no way on earth that I would have missed it," said
Tutu, whose testy relationship with the ruling African
National Congress (ANC) has soured in the last decade.
Presidency Minister Collins Chabane confirmed that no
specific invitation was sent to Tutu, but said the
accreditation he had used at an earlier memorial on Tuesday
would have allowed him in principle to attend the Qunu event.
"We would like to reiterate that anyone wanting to attend the
funeral service is welcome to do so," Chabane said.
"GO WELL, TATA"
Earlier on Saturday, the ANC, the 101-year-old former
liberation movement to which Mandela dedicated his life, bid
its own farewell in a rousing ceremony at a Pretoria military
With revolutionary songs, clenched fists and cries of
"Amandla" (Power) in honour of "Comrade Mandela", it was the
most overtly political of all the ceremonies since Mandela's
"Go well Tata, you have played your part," President Jacob
Zuma said in a eulogy that recalled Mandela's life as a
fighter in the armed struggle for freedom as well his later,
more widely recognised role as unifier and nation-builder.
"We will always remember you," he said, before leading the
packed hall in spirited renditions of anti-apartheid anthems.
After the ANC send-off, Mandela's body was flown by military
transport plane, escorted by two fighter jets, to Mthatha,
the nearest airport to Qunu. Thousands lined the streets as
the hearse proceeded through the town.
Mandela's widow, Graca Machel, and his former wife, Winnie
Madikizela-Mandela, followed the cortege, looking drained and
emotional after nine days of memorials in Johannesburg and
The rites included three days of lying in state at the Union
Buildings in Pretoria, at which more than 100,000 people
queued for hours to say a last goodbye.
One of Mandela's grandchildren, Mandla, thanked those who had
"I have witnessed his army. I have witnessed his people. I
have witnessed ordinary South Africans who walked this long
walk to freedom with him and I can assure the African
National Congress today that the future of this country looks
FLAGS AND FLY-PAST
Sunday's funeral will be attended by 4,500 people, from
family members and national leaders to foreign guests
including Britain's Prince Charles and American civil rights
activist Reverend Jesse Jackson.
The Air Force is expected to stage a fly-past, followed by
three military helicopters with giant South African flags in
tow, an echo of the historic scenes nearly two decades ago
when Mandela was sworn in as president.
At a mass memorial in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Zuma was
subjected to a humiliating barrage of boos and jeers from the
crowd, a worrying sign for the ruling party six months before
Although it is widely expected to win, the ANC is losing
support even among South Africa's black majority because of
its perceived inability to tackle chronic poverty and
Africa's biggest economy has enjoyed strong growth since the
end of apartheid, but unemployment has remained above 25
percent and it remains one of the world's most unequal
societies, with the average white household earning six times
more than the average black one.
Besides the booing of Zuma, there has also been a storm of
outrage over a sign-language interpreter accused of miming
nonsense at the Johannesburg memorial. The signer has
defended himself, saying he suffered a schizophrenic attack.
In Qunu too, there were also a few dissenting voices, mainly
from those disappointed at being excluded from the funeral of
man who to them was a local leader first, and a world leader
"Tata Mandela is a man of the people. When he was alive we
used to go to his compound. Whatever was going on, we used to
go in the compound and it was never a problem for the people
of Qunu," said resident Malibonwe Gamakhulu.
"And today he is dead and we are being pushed out."