Nelson Mandela laid to rest in childhood village, South Africa rivetted to funeral coverage for departed leader

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SummaryPresident Nelson Mandela was laid to rest with full state honours in his village.

President Pranab Mukherjee and his US counterpart Barack Obama, in paying tributes to Nelson Mandela.

A full military honour guard and a 21-gun salute escorted Nelson Mandela's coffin to the marquee where mourners bid adieu to the global peace icon.

The funeral service, as was the case with other memorial services in the past week everywhere, was marked with celebration as well as mourning by various speakers.

"One thing we can assure you today, Tata, as you take your final steps, is that South Africa will continue to rise," Zuma said.

"Your binding revolutionary spirit will remain binding on us to not rest until the poor and the working class have truly benefited from the material fruits of freedom and democracy which you fought for. Today we undertake to take forward the promotion of an improved quality of life for all," he said.

Veteran Indian-origin South African activist Ahmed Kathrada, a fellow inmate with Nelson Mandela at the Robben Island prison off Cape Town and an old friend, said he always considered the iconic leader to be his elder brother.

In an emotional eulogy at Nelson Mandela's funeral, Kathrada said the anti-apartheid icon "united the people of South Africa and the entire world on a scale never before witnessed in history."

The final day of South Africa's 10-day commemoration for the elder statesman began with his coffin taken on a gun carriage from Nelson Mandela's house to a giant marquee.

Members of the family had attended an overnight vigil, where a traditional praise singer is believed to have chanted details of his long journey and life.

His casket, draped in the South African flag, was placed beneath a lectern where speakers paid their tributes. Some guests sang and danced to celebrate Nelson Mandela's life as the service began.

Two grandchildren then addressed the congregation. Ndaba who read an obituary, and Nandi, who spoke fondly of her grandfather as a disciplinarian.

"We shall miss you... your stern voice when you are not pleased with our behaviour. We shall miss your laughter," Nandi said.

Listening to the tributes were Graca Machel, his widow, and his second wife, Winnie-Madikizela Mandela, who sat either side of Zuma.

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