Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

16 December 2013

South Africa: Goodbye, Madiba

analysis

It was the end of the greatest love story, the one of Nelson Mandela and his people. His was a life dedicated to political struggle, to the fight for human rights, to a society free of discrimination, injustice and inequality. But it was also a love story that perhaps only now we are truly beginning to understand.

Since Nelson Mandela's death, the outpouring of grief and remembrance of his outreach and acts of love in South Africa and around the world has been unparalleled. His funeral and burial on Sunday was an impressive showcase by the South African government and the armed forces, interspersed with traditional rituals.

Was that what Mandela had in mind though when he expressed his wish to be buried at his sprawling home village of Qunu? Did we give our Madiba the best goodbye?

Around midday, the clouds gathered dramatically over Qunu's impossibly big sky, casting shadows on the hillsides. The Last Post echoed over the valley. Thousands weeped, some bit their lips. Through the clouds, military helicopters came into sight, the South African flag fluttering below them. A 21-gun salute shook the earth, billowing smoke. On a hillside overlooking the burial ground,...

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