15 December 2013
“As your journey today ends, ours must continue,” President Jacob Zuma said at Nelson Mandela’s funeral service in Qunu in the Eastern Cape on Sunday. “One thing we can assure you today, as you take your final steps, is that South Africa will continue to rise.”
“Your revolutionary spirit will not rest within us,” Zuma told over 4 000 mourners gathered in a specially constructed dome on Mandela’s farm. “We plan to take your vision forward of better schools, universities, quality housing … decent jobs, as well as an efficient and accountable public service.”
Zuma told the crowd packed inside the giant marquee – including royalty, celebrities and current and former heads of state – that Mandela’s love for children would also be carried forward.
“South African children must grow up in a country that is not only politically free, but it should also be free from violence, free and safe from crime, free and safe from poverty, ignorance and disease.”
In his tribute, Zuma thanked Mandela for the sacrifices he made in the fight that led finally to South Africa’s democracy in 1994.
He also thanked the Mandela family for their perseverance during the 27 years Mandela spent in jail, saying Mandela’s rise to the presidency of South Africa would not have been possible without the support system provided by all of his family members.
South Africa, Zuma said, would forever be indebted to the family, including Mandela’s late first wife Evelyn and his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. He also thanked Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, for the unwavering support she showed Mandela during his final years, and the medical team that looked after him when he fell critically ill.
Describing Mandela as “a man so great, and yet so humble”, Zuma said: “Today marks an end of an extraordinary journey that began 95 years ago … Whilst your long walk to freedom in a physical sense ends, our own journey continues.
“We will not say goodbye. In our hearts, you will continue to live forever.”
Following the funeral service, Mandela will be buried next to his relatives at the family gravesite in a private, more intimate ceremony.