Nelson Mandela was laid to rest in his childhood village of Qunu on Sunday, marking the end of an exceptional journey for the prisoner turned president who transformed South Africa.

Under the scorching sun, a military escort accompanied his coffin to the burial site and took off the national flag that draped his casket. White wreaths sat around it.

His widow, Graca Machel, and others watched from under a tent as helicopters carrying flags whizzed past.

“Now you have achieved the ultimate freedom in the bosom of God, your maker,” the officiator said.

Tribal leaders clad in animal skins joined dignitaries in dark suits at the burial grounds atop a hill overlooking Qunu valleys.

Before making their way to the site, mourners attended a service in a tent set up for the event. Ninety-five candles glowed behind his casket, one for each year of his life.

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Madiba: The Life Of Nelson Mandela
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Nelson Mandela Laid to Rest in His Childhood Village  was originally published on