Mandela to buried Today


File picture shows former South African President Nelson Mandela speaking after being conferred with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws at the University of GalwayAfter days of mourning, the global community will today bid farewell to international icon and statesman, Dr. Nelson Mandela, who died on December 5 at the age of 95.

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Mandela who was adjudged as one of the greatest world leaders that ever lived will be buried in his Qunu country home after military and traditional funeral rites. The event will be witnessed by over 50 leaders, who have arrived in the country for the ceremony.

Apparently to ensure a hitch-free ceremony, the South African government has limited the number of invitees to the tomb where Mandela will be buried to 4,500 while 11,894 soldiers will be on guard.

Mandela was jailed for 27 years on Robben Island by the white-minority racist regime which he opposed. He returned from prison in 1990 to emerge South Africa’s president and left office after one term from the country’s first multi-racial elections in 1994.

A year before he was elected president, he won the Nobel Peace Prize along with FW de Clerk, South Africa’s last apartheid-era president who helped negotiate the end of racial segregation with Mandela.

Around 3,000 members of the media have already arrived in Qunu where a special stage and marquee have been erected for the invited guests.

A park and ride shuttle service for accredited people will start from Walter Sisulu University, Zamukulungisa Campus today.

The event will however not be attended by renowned clergyman and Noble Peace winner, Desmond Tutu because he is not among dignitaries listed for the ceremony. Tutu said he loved to attend the occasion but lamented that he was not invited to it.

African Traditions, military pomp To Herald  Mandela’s Burial
Mandela will be laid to rest 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 after world.

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.

Around 46 per cent of the population practices traditional African religions, according to a 2010 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, a Washington-based research centre.

Mandela, of the abaThembu people and South Africa’s first black president, died a week ago at the age of 95.

Thousands of people have filed passed his body as it lies in state in Pretoria this week.

He will be buried by his family following their traditional burial rites 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 Nokuzola Mndende, 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.

For the abaThembu, the ritual of accompanying Mandela’s spirit include the slaughtering of an ox in the early hours of Saturday morning before receiving his body, flown in from Pretoria.

After that Mandela’s body will be handed over to the church and then to President Jacob Zuma for the state funeral.

Finally King Dalindyebo, king of Mandela’s clan, is expected to perform salutations to the dead that will send Mandela to the world of the ancestors.

The king’s men will then join him in a last salutation before everyone returns home to wash their hands outside the family yard and have lunch.

A week later, the family will take part in a ritual to “wash the spades” that dug his grave and, after a year has passed, another ox is slaughtered and the mourners remove their black mourning garb.

Crowd Cheer Mandela ‘s Body At Qunu
The body of Nelson Mandela arrived yesterday at his ancestral home of Qunu, where it was greeted by singing, dancing local residents ahead of today’s ceremony.

As police and military helicopters buzzed overheard, the hearse carrying his remains rolled with a police escort into the hamlet of scattered homes lying between green pastures.

Delighted residents broke into the South African national anthem as the cortege appeared on the road from Mthatha airport.

Cheering crowds had lined parts of the road to pay their respects as the black hearse passed.

Nthabeleng Ngeva, a 33-year-old Mthatha resident, waited more than four hours to see the procession and jumped up and down as it passed.

“I am relieved we finally saw Madiba,” she said. “I take comfort in knowing we saw him go to his final resting place.”

Desmond Tutu Drops Plan To Attend Burial
As the crowds met the funeral procession in Eastern Cape, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said he has cancelled plans to attend the event after “receiving no indication that his name was on a guest or accreditation list,” according to a statement published on the Facebook page of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.

“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 the statement, using a Xhosa word for father. “Had I or my office been informed that I would be welcome there is no way on earth that I would have missed it.”

Earlier yesterday, Mandela’s remains arrived at the Waterkloof base shortly before 7 a.m. for a memorial service by the ruling African National Congress (ANC), the party that Mandela led. Among those who greeted the body at the air base were Andrew Mlangeni and Ahmed Kathrada, who were imprisoned with Mandela on Robben Island.

President Jacob Zuma, Mandela’s wife Graca Machel and former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and family members of the late president were also at the memorial.

The casket was draped in an ANC flag while members of the party and its alliance partners, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party, delivered eulogies.

“Since the day our leader departed, we have in a very special way remembered him, not only us, but the whole world,” Zuma said.

Royal Family Performs Traditional Rites
The former president, widely known by his clan name Madiba, spent most of his childhood in the rural village and built a home there after being released from prison.

The royal family of the abaThembu, Mandela’s tribal group, will perform a traditional ceremony today before the coffin is moved to the marquee tent at Mandela’s homestead, where the funeral service will take place, according to the government.

Mtakwabo Phako, an 18-year-old student, sold South African flags with Mandela’s image for 100 rand ($9.72) as he waited for the procession to pass by on its way to Qunu.

“I came so I can be comforted in the loss I feel. I don’t think much will change after Tata Madiba is buried, because if things change it will mean as his people we learned nothing from his values and sacrifices,” Phako said. “His life will have been in vain.”

11,894 Soldiers On Guard For Madiba
The South African National Defence Force deployed 11,894 soldiers to maintain law and order and assist with the state funeral, according to the government. A military guard of honour will accompany Mandela’s hearse from Mthatha airport to the funeral.

The airport has been closed to scheduled flights and reserved for charter planes bringing dignitaries and mourners.

The main highway between the city and East London, which runs past the Mandela homestead, has been closed to traffic.

4,500 Guests Invited To Funeral
The government said it would restrict the public part of the funeral at Mandela’s house in Qunu to the 4,500 invited guests only, including President Zuma and foreign dignitaries, such as several African presidents and Britain’s Prince Charles.

After a week of mourning, in which an estimated 100,000 South Africans lined up to see Mr. Mandela’s body lying in the capital Pretoria, the arrival in Qunu took on the flavour of a political rally.

ANC Evokes Mandela’s Spirit For 2014 Poll Victory
ANC members who came out in Qunu evoked their former president’s desire to make a better country.

“We remain hopeful that the principles of the ANC Mandela stood for will remain and that we will eventually get leaders who will apply them,” said 24-year-old Sinovuyo Sitinga, who stood along the road to catch one final glimpse of Mandela.

Mr. Mandela’s death has emerged as a platform for the campaigning party ahead of next year’s election. They plan to invoke the past glory of the party under Mr. Mandela and hope the memory of the liberation leader resonates among voters.

“We will work hard so that the ANC wins the 2014 election with a decisive majority,” said Bheki Ntshalintshali, the deputy secretary-general of COSATU, the country’s biggest umbrella labour union and an ally of the ANC.

New and more populist parties have emerged to challenge the ANC’s dominance. Others say they don’t plan to vote at all, in a measure of the disenchantment with the only party since it took power in the first multiracial elections in 1994. Getting people excited about the ANC again is a challenge that leaders at the top are struggling to address.

“The question for the ANC is if we can produce other Madibas,” President Zuma said yesterday morning, referring to Mandela by an endearment. “We need to ponder and say how could we do it today because we need more Madibas so that our country can prosper.”

World Leaders, Soyinka Pay Tributes
As the world prepares to say goodbye to Mandela, some notable Nigerians, including Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, yesterday paid tributes to the former South African president.
Soyinka, in a poem, titled “No, I Say,” stressed Mandela’s refusal to negotiate his own freedom without his comrades-in-arm serving in apartheid prisons.
Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, French president Francois Hollande, German president Joachim Gauck, Canadian prime minister Stephen Harpe, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, Indian president Pranab Mukherjee, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and European Union Council president Herman Van Rompuy were among the participants of the memorial on Tuesday.
Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, and Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, also attended the ceremony, an indicator of many that hostilities were put on hold for the day. Blair has called Mugabe a dictator who should have been removed from power. Mugabe has called Blair an imperialist and once told him to “go to hell”.
Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations Secretary-General who was also attending the ceremony, said: “He [Mandela] has done it again…. We see leaders representing many points of view, and people from all walks of life. All here, united…

He showed the awesome power of forgiveness and of connecting people with each other.”

Other dignitaries at the session, which took place in Lagos  included governors Rotimi Amaechi and Rauf Aregbesola, consulate general of the South African Republic, Lulu Louis Mnguni, French ambassador, Francios Sastourne and deputy consulate general of the Italian embassy.

Others were Professor J.P Clark, director-general, Centre for Black Arts and African Civilisation, CBAAC, Professor Tunde Babawale; president, Campaign for Democracy (CD), Dr. Joe Odumakin; Professor Kole Omotosho, Professor Ogaga Ifowodo, Odia Ofeimun, executive director, TheNews, Kunle Ajibade and Mr Femi Falana.

Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola is aNaija247news' Southwest editor. He's based in Lagos and writes on the Yoruba Nation political issues, news and investigative reports

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