South Africa buries Nelson Mandela after massive funeral ceremony

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SummaryNelson Mandela was buried Sunday in the African ground he loved after a funeral ceremony that included a 21-gun salute and fly-overs by military aircraft as well as a eulogy by a traditional leader wearing an animal skin.

Nelson Mandela was buried Sunday in the African ground he loved after a funeral ceremony that included a 21-gun salute and fly-overs by military aircraft as well as a eulogy by a traditional leader wearing an animal skin.

Nelson Mandela's casket was lowered into the earth after military pallbearers carried it to the family gravesite in the rolling hills of Qunu, the rural village in eastern South Africa which was the childhood home of the anti-apartheid leader who became the country's first democratically-elected president.

South African television showed Nelson Mandela's casket at the family gravesite, but the broadcasting was stopped just before the coffin was buried at the request of the Nelson Mandela family.

It was South Africa's final goodbye to the man who reconciled the country in its most volatile period.

Several hundred people attended the burial. Earlier, more than 4,000, some singing and dancing, gathered for a funeral service in a huge tent at the family compound of Nelson Mandela, who died Dec. 5 at the age of 95 after a long illness. They sang the national anthem in an emotional rendition in which some mourners placed fists over their chests.

Nelson Mandela's portrait looked over the assembly in the white tent from behind a bank of 95 candles representing each year of his remarkable life. His casket, transported to the tent on a gun carriage and draped in the national flag, rested on a carpet of cow skins below a lectern where speakers delivered eulogies.

"A great tree has fallen, he is now going home to rest with his forefathers,'' said Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, a representative of Nelson Mandela's family who wore an animal skin. "We thank them for lending us such an icon.''

The tent ceremony was broadcast on big screens in the area, including at one spot on a hill overlooking Nelson Mandela's property. Several hundred people gathered there, some wearing the black, yellow and green colors of the African National Congress - the liberation movement-turned political party that Nelson Mandela had led - and occasionally breaking into song.

Nandi Nelson Mandela said her grandfather went barefoot to school in Qunu when he was boy and eventually became president and a figure of global import.

"It is to each of us to achieve anything you want in life,'' she said, recalling kind gestures by Nelson Mandela "that made all those around him also want to do good.''

In the Xhosa language,

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