back to top

Nelson Mandela Laid To Rest In South Africa

The former president of South Africa was buried among 450 relatives, political leaders and foreign celebrities in a private ceremony. The state funeral ceremony was attended by 4,500 family, friends and dignitaries.

Posted on

Nelson Mandela, the Nobel peace laureate, was buried at his ancestral home in Qunu on Dec. 15 with a send-off that combined "military pomp with the traditional rites of his Xhosa abaThembu clan," Reuters reports.


Mandela was the nation's first black president nearly two decades ago, and led the struggle against apartheid.

Mandela was 95 when he died on Dec. 5 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

"The person who is lying here is South Africa's greatest son," said Cyril Ramaphosa, deputy leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

Handout / Reuters

Mandela's ex-wife Winne Mandela (left) and his widow, Graca Machel (second from right), along with South African President Jacob Zuma attend Mandela's funeral ceremony.

According to Reuters, the coffin was "placed on black and white Nguni cattle skins in front of a crescent of 95 candles, one for each year of Mandela's life."

A choir also sang Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika, the national anthem adopted after apartheid ended in 1994.


"Whilst the long walk to freedom has ended in the physical sense, our own journey continues. We have to continue building the type of society you worked tirelessly to construct. We have to take the legacy forward," President Zuma said in his eulogy.

Oprah, who atttended the service, posted a photo with the leader on Instagram: "Remembering Our Beloved Madiba today and our last walk in his home village. #MandelaFinalFarewell"


"Farewell my dear brother, my mentor, my leader," said Mandela's lifelong friend and fellow inmate Ahmed Kathrada during the ceremony.

The casket, draped in the South African flag, was carried to the burial site by military chiefs, followed by Mandela's grandson and heir, Mandla, and President Zuma.


Millions around the country watched the service on television or listened in on the radio, mourning their former leader.

Millions of people in South Africa and around the world are mourning Mandela.

Rachel Zarrell is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Rachel Zarrell at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.