Qunu - Struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada became emotional during his farewell to his life-long friend, former president Nelson Mandela, at his state funeral in Qunu on Sunday.
"I don't consider him my friend. He was my older brother," Kathrada said.
His voice broke when he described the last time he saw Mandela. "reduced to a shadow of himself". It wavered with feeling when he said he and Mandela had called each other "Madala".
Flanked by two rows of candles, Kathrada stood at the podium in a dark suit and a striped, black and grey tie.
Earlier, the frail-looking anti-apartheid activist was helped on stage by an official, who held his hand.
Mandela has joined the A-team of the ANC and other prominent leaders, Kathrada said.
"We are a country that has been blessed by many great and remarkable people," Kathrada told mourners at Mandela's funeral.
"We have been blessed by a struggle that actively involved a massive [number] of people in our country. For all this and more, we are deeply grateful to Madiba."
Kathrada said South Africa was also deeply grateful, through the sacrifice made by Mandela, that the country was a lively democracy.
"We are grateful that dignity has been restored to all South Africans. We are deeply grateful that the lives of thousands of people have improved and continue to improve," he said.
"We are deeply grateful for a Constitution that encompasses all that is good in us."
He said that finally, they were grateful that each and every person, white, black, coloured and Indian, could all proudly call themselves South African.
Kathrada's address kept the audience enthralled. They loudly applauded for him and listened carefully to his sincere description of a life lived together.
"The last time I saw Madiba alive was when I visited him in hospital. I was filled with an overwhelming sadness and emotion and I cried.
"He held my hand and it was profoundly heartbreaking and it brought out all the emotions in me.
"My mind automatically flashed back to a picture of the man I grew up with and how I wish I'd never had to confront what I saw in the hospital.
"I first met him 67 years ago and I recall the tall, healthy, strong man - the boxer, the prisoner who easily wielded the pick and shovel when the rest of us couldn't do so, the prisoner who vigorously exercised every morning."
"When Walter [Sisulu] died, I lost a father and now I have lost a brother. My life is in a void and I don't know who to turn to," Kathrada concluded.
Kathrada was imprisoned with Mandela for 26 years, 18 years of which was on Robben Island. Mandela served a 27 year sentence.
Earlier, television personality Oprah Winfrey, raised her eyebrows in acknowledgement when ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa welcomed her and other special guests to the funeral.
The song "Jerusalem likhaya lami" was sung.
The song, which translates to Jerusalem is my home, is a popular hymn in the Methodist church, of which Mandela was a member. - Sapa