"Hambakhale Madibaââ<br />
South Africa says 'Go Well' to Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Whether they were at home, a stadium, or a gas station, most South Africans spent Sunday morning watching the state funeral of Nelson Mandela on television. The service began with celebratory songs, and ended with more somber ones.

4500 people gathered at a marquee in Qunu, near Mandela’s childhood home in the Eastern Cape, for the funeral service, including Idrus Elbe (just nominated for a Golden Globe for portraying Mandela in "Long Walk to Freedom,") Forest Whitaker, and Alfre Woodard.

Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia's former president, who gave one of the last addresses, was welcomed with ululations and cheers, and then nearly chased off stage when he took his time talking to the crowd.

"He is no more in terms of life. He's still Madiba, he's still our leader," Kaunda said. "Let us remember this love he had for us all."

Just before noon, military pallbearers began to wheel out the coffin, draped with the South African flag, which first flew on April 27, 1994, the day that Mandela was elected president. For many years, the abstract pattern was referred to as “the new South African flag,” but has since become simply “the flag.”

Some 450 family members, military commanders, and eminent individuals such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Oprah Winfrey, and Richard Branson then proceeded up a hill to the gravesite for the burial.

The burial itself was not broadcast.

The service concluded ten days of powerfully public and private celebration and mourning.

On Wednesday in Johannesburg, dozens of heads of state along with local leaders and everyday folk gathered at FNB Stadium in an unseasonably cold rain; in Cape Town throughout the week, thousands came to the Grand Parade to place flowers in front of City Hall, where he made his first public appearance some 23 years ago after his release from prison; and in countless towns and villages across the nation, special services were held in houses of worship to reflect on the incredible life of the first democratically elected president.

During this time, each of Madiba's values and virtues have been celebrated and praised through song and dance.

A commonly repeated sentiment has been the importance of actually living by Mandela's code.

"We shall miss your voice," said Nandi Mandela on Sunday morning, recalling how her grandfather grew up amongst the rolling hills of Qunu, and attending school barefoot. "We will carry lessons you taught us throughout our lives. As South Africans, we must stop pointing fingers and lead by example, as you did."

"As your journey ends today, ours continues in earnest," said President Jacob Zuma at Madiba’s funeral.

The current African National Congress (ANC) government has been widely criticized for not doing more to achieve economic parity for all. On Wednesday's gathering in Joburg, the crowd booed the president--an unusually disrespectful way to treat an African elder, especially in such a public gathering.

While some speculate that the surge of Madiba pride at the moment will mean that the ANC will have a better turnout in the national elections in a few months—the man and the party are inextricably linked--others say that people who voted ANC out of loyalty to Mandela will no longer be compelled to do so.

"Good leadership has no fear of what will happen," said Bishop Z. Siwa, who linked the selflessness of Mandela with that of Jesus.

Other African leaders echoed the sentiment of the need to follow the Mandela example. Joyce Banda, president of Malawi, said that Mandela taught her that "leadership is about falling in love with the people you serve, and about the people falling in love with you."