Mbete opens Mandela’s funeral

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The coffin of Nelson Mandela is escorted as it arrives for the funeral ceremony in Qunu. Photo: PEDRO UGARTE

Qunu - ANC chairwoman Baleka Mbete was the first to speak at former president Nelson Mandela's state funeral in Qunu on Sunday.

“We cast our eye collectively back on an unprecedented week of outpouring of our river of tears,” she said.

“He leaves us with a new Constitution, a set of laws, institutions, policies, a developing human rights ethos, a developing culture of transparency, mutual respect and democracy.”

Mbete told the assembled statesmen, politicians and royalty that the young man who had left Mvezo in the Eastern Cape seven decades ago, had “lived to be a mighty leader”.

Two loves of Mandela's life, his widow Graca Machel and ex-wife Winnie-Madikizela Mandela, took their seats as Mandela’s coffin was brought into the venue.

Both women were dressed in black and their hair was covered. They sat in the front row to say their last goodbyes.

On Saturday, Machel wept when she was handed the ANC flag which had covered Mandela's coffin at the party's send-off for its former leader.

A choir of about 50 singers, the men in bowties and black suits and women in black or white formal dresses, sang hymns and the national anthem, before an opening devotion by Bishop Don Dabula.

Latecomers entered the venue through side doors.- Sapa

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