Nelson Mandela Funeral: Tributes From People Who Knew Him Best

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By Lilian Anekwe | December 15, 2013 10:49 PM EST

World leaders and dignitaries gathered in Qunu, in South Africa's Eastern Cape, to pay tribute to former South African Prime Minister Nelson Mandela at a funeral service in his ancestral village. Some of the tributes included: 

Malawi President Joyce Banda, on her first visit to visit the home of Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel:
"When I saw him my first reaction was to turn and run out of the room. The picture that I have, and that was shown all over Malawi this past week, is of Mama Graca Machel pulling me back!"

Ahmed Kathrada, anti-apartheid activist and fellow Robben Island prisoner:
"I first met him 67 years ago. I remember the strongman, the boxer... the prisoner who would wake up and vigorously exercise every morning before we woke up. Now he has left us and gone to the join the ace team of the ANC."

Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania on Mandela travelling from Tanzania on a false passport issued by a supportive Tanzanian Government:
"When Madiba came to Tanzania he had no passport, but from Tanzania he went to Accra, Lagos and Addis Ababa - he was given a Tanzanian travel document. It facilitated his movement. I know many of you use Tanzanian travel documents!"

President Kikwete, on Mandela's first visit to Tanzania in 1962:
"In order to keep his visit discreet he did not stay in a hotel. He stayed at the home of the minister of commerce and industry. When he left on his trip to Accra, Lagos and Addis and Algiers, he left behind his boots at the minister's home, in the hope that on his way back he could pick up the boots. Unfortunately he couldn't pass through Dar Es Saleem again, and shortly after arriving back in South Africa he was arrested and imprisoned in Robben Island for 27 years. The minister's family kept the boots, awaiting his return. In 1995 when Mandela was president, the pair of boots were handed back to him by the widow of the late minister."

Kenneth Kaunda, President of Zambia:
"I spent three nights with [former prime minister John] Vorster on a train. I asked the prime minister to please release Nelson Mandela and his colleagues and come together in discussions. It came to nothing.... Then came my meeting with FW de Klerk and, after a few hours, I called a press conference where I said: 'I think I can do business with this man'. Thank goodness he released this great man."

Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa, overseeing the funeral service:
"Yours was truly a long walk to freedom. You have now achieved the ultimate freedom. May we take a leaf of selflessness from Nelson Mandela, in a culture that seems to be full of takers. We well always cherish the life you shared with the people of this nation."

Bishop Siwa, quoting William Shakespeare's Macbeth:
"Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Jacob Zuma, South African President:
"It is the end of an extraordinary journey that began 95 years ago. It is the end of 95 glorious years, of a freedom fighter, a dedicated and humble servant of the people of South Africa. Fountain of wisdom, a pillar of strength, and a beacon of hope for all those fighting for a just and equitable world order."

"Your long walk to freedom has ended in a physical sense. Our own journey continues. We have to continue working to build the kind of society you worked tirelessly to construct."

Ndaba Mandela, Mandela's grandson:
"It is through Mandela that the world cast its eyes on South Africa and took notice of the severe and organised repression of South Africans. Yet it was also through Mandela that the world would learn the spirit of endurance, the triumph of forgiveness and the beauty of reconciliation. Indeed, the story of Mandela is so much the story of South Africa."  

Nandi Mandela, Mandela's granddaughter:
"Go well Madiba. Go well to the land of our ancestors, you have run your race."

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