Mandela funeral: Grief and dignity of global stars

Lindiwe Sisulu, a South African politician, is overcome with emotion. Picture: AP
Lindiwe Sisulu, a South African politician, is overcome with emotion. Picture: AP
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THE hugely diverse range of Nelson Mandela’s friends and admirers was evident by the mix of mourners at his funeral.

From the ordinary man to a host of foreign dignitaries, as well as a smattering of celebrities – they all came to pay their last respects to the anti-apartheid icon.

Film star Idris Elba, who played the part of Mr Mandela in the movie about his life, Long Walk to Freedom, as well as chat show queen Oprah Winfrey and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson were just some of the celebrities who came to mourn the passing of the leader.

Prince Charles, who was representing the Queen, was among the 4,500 people at the funeral.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former South African president Thabo Mbeki greeted each other before the funeral ceremony at Qunu, the ancestral home of South Africa’s first black president.

Lindiwe Sisulu, a South African politician, was seen comforting fellow mourners at the two-hour service, which blended state ceremonies with traditional rituals.

There was a gun salute as the funeral cortege taking the coffin on a carriage made its way from Mr Mandela’s house to a marquee on the family’s property.

A poster depicting a photo of Mr Mandela was placed among flowers outside his house in Johannesburg.

For those not invited to attend the service, large screens broadcasting live footage of the funeral were put up in stadiums and parks around the county, including the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg. Mr Mandela’s body was laid to rest in a family plot.

His widow, Graca Machel, and president Jacob Zuma were present for the private, traditional Xhosa burial.

Helicopters flying the South African flag and air force fighters trailing white smoke marked the end of the family graveside ceremony.