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Mandela’s funeral begins with military procession

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Mandela’s funeral begins with military procession
Mandela’s funeral begins with military procession

 Nelson Mandela’s state funeral began on Sunday in his ancestral village of Qunu, in the presence of around 4,500 guests.

The service is taking place in a giant dome-shaped marquee erected at Mandela’s home in Eastern Cape province.

Members of the governing African National Congress, along with scores of family members, government officials, African heads of state, Britain’s Prince Charles and US talk show host Oprah Winfrey are attending.

Mandela’s coffin was draped in the South African flag and loaded on a gun carriage for a procession to the marquee, followed by hundreds of marching troops.

As the coffin entered the marquee, followed by Mandela’s widow Graca Machel, his ex-wife Winnie and grandson and heir Mandla, a choir sang Lizalis’ Idinga Lakho (Fulfil your Promise) a hymn in Mandela’s native Xhosa tongue.

The anti-apartheid icon will be buried directly afterwards in a plot on his property, next to his parents and three of his children.

About 450 people, mostly family members, will attend the burial, which will draw on the traditions of Xhosa culture.

The funeral service is being celebrated by a Methodist bishop, Don Dabula, who acts as the Mandela family chaplain.

“In your infinite love for every race and tribe and nation you brought a new world into being,” Dabula eulogised.

Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima of the Thembu people, which is part of the Xhosa nation, will lead tributes at the service, followed by fellow former political prisoner Ahmed Kathrada, followed by Mandela’s granddaughter Nandi, the leaders of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Malawi and President Jacob Zuma.

The funeral ends 10 days of official mourning for Mandela, who died on December 5 at the age of 95.

Tens of thousands of people attended memorial services over the past week, and many queued to view his body during three days of lying in state in the capital Pretoria.

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