South African President Zuma wipes his eyes during a send-off ceremony for Nelson Mandela
in Pretoria (Photo: Reuters)
Nelson Mandela's funeral service is taking place in his rural childhood village of Qunu, marking the final leg of his exceptional 95-year journey.
Earlier, a funeral cortege with his flag-draped coffin entered the gates of Mandela's homestead in the remote village of Qunu, accompanied by a phalanx of military vehicles.
Mandela is being buried near the homestead, ending 10 days of national mourning and global tributes for the prisoner-turned-president.
Close to 4,500 people, including foreign dignitaries are attending the funeral which will blend state ceremony with traditional rituals.
Mandela's Thembu community will conduct a traditional Xhosa ceremony, including songs and poems about his life and his achievements. An ox will be slaughtered. A family elder will stay near the coffin, which has been draped with a lion's skin, to talk "to the body's spirit".
Members of his family attended an overnight vigil, with a traditional praise singer chanting details of his long journey and life.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, having earlier said he had cancelled his flight as he had not received an invitation to the funeral, confirmed he will be present, according to the report.
South Africa's first black president had often said he felt most at peace at his rural home. "Look, he loved these hills," his daughter, Maki Mandela, told CNN."He really believed this is where he belonged."
Before Mandela's journey home, the ruling African National Congress bade him farewell at an air force base in Pretoria.
Members of the ruling party stood, bowed and prayed around his black, flag-draped casket.
"Icon of our struggle. Father of our nation," read a giant poster bearing a picture of a smiling Nelson Mandela.
Mandela died on 5 December aged 95.
Click here to watch coverage of Mandela's funeral live in the UK on BBC One.
Click here to watch coverage of Mandela's funeral live elsewhere in the world.
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