The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

December 15, 2013

Mandela makes one final journey

QUNU, South Africa — Nelson Mandela came home Saturday.

A hearse carrying Mandela’s body drove into his hometown in rural South Africa ahead of burial Sunday, returning the country’s peacemaker to the place where he had always wanted to die.

It was here in Qunu that Mandela roamed the hills and tended livestock as a youth, absorbing lessons about discipline and consensus from traditional chiefs. From here he embarked on a journey — the “long walk to freedom” as he put it — that thrust him to the forefront of black South Africans’ struggle for equal rights that resonated around the world.

As motorcyclists in uniform and armored personnel carriers escorted the vehicle carrying Mandela’s casket to the family compound, people lining the route sang, applauded and, in some cases, wept.

“When I saw the hearse passing, I couldn’t hold my excitement. I felt like I was holding him by the hand,” said Norma Khobo. “It was very exciting, I saw him!”

The vehicle carrying Mandela’s casket, covered with a national flag, arrived at the family compound under cloudy skies at 4 p.m. It was accompanied by an enormous convoy of police, military and other vehicles, and a military helicopter hovered overhead.

According to Xhosa tribal tradition, Mandela was honored as a leader by placing a skin on the coffin, replacing the flag.

Mandela’s journey started Saturday with pomp and ceremony at an air base in the capital before being flown aboard a military plane to this simple village in the wide-open spaces of eastern South Africa.

At the Mthatha airport Mandela’s casket was welcomed by a military guard and placed in a convoy for the 20 mile voyage toward Qunu. Residents and people who had traveled for hours thronged a road leading to Qunu, singing and dancing as Mandela T-shirts were handed out.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • Traps set in New Jersey lake while animal control searches for snake

    JEFFERSON, N.J. — Reports of a 16-foot-long exotic snake — possibly an anaconda — slithering through New Jersey’s largest lake have stoked fears among residents and led to searches and questions about what exactly is in the water....

    July 23, 2014

  • Airlines cancel air traffic after rocket attack

    JERUSALEM — A Hamas rocket exploded Tuesday near Israel’s main airport, prompting a ban on flights from the U.S. and many from Europe and Canada as aviation authorities responded to the shock of seeing a civilian jetliner shot down over ...

    July 23, 2014

  • Remains of victims from Malaysian airliner crash transported by train to Ukrainian controlled territory

    KHARKIV, Ukraine — A train bearing the dead from the downed Malaysian airliner reached Ukrainian government-held territory at long last Tuesday, but the pro-Russian separatists in control of the crash site showed little willingness to ...

    July 23, 2014

  • Contrarian’s case: Why the U.S. could be dragged down by struggling world economies?

    NEW YORK — Just as the U.S. economy is strengthening, other countries are threatening to drag it down....

    July 23, 2014

  • Dueling rulings: Courts split on health law

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s health care law is snarled in another big legal battle, with two federal appeals courts issuing contradictory rulings on a key financing issue within hours of each other Tuesday....

    July 23, 2014

  • Obama nominee pledges to ‘transform’ VA

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs pledged Tuesday to transform the beleaguered agency, saying that “systematic failures” must be addressed....

    July 23, 2014

  • Friend is first convicted in Boston Marathon probe

    BOSTON — The conviction of a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for impeding the investigation into the bombings has his lawyers wondering if anyone else who faces charges connected to the 2013 attack stands a ...

    July 23, 2014

  • Rebels release train with bodies from jet

    HRABOVE, Ukraine — Bowing to international pressure, pro-Moscow separatists released a train packed with bodies and handed over the black boxes from the downed Malaysia Airlines plane, four days after it plunged into rebel-held eastern ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Gaza death toll passes 560

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A high-level attempt by the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state to end deadly Israel-Hamas fighting was off to a rough start Monday: Gaza’s Hamas rulers signaled they won’t agree to an unconditional ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Perry sending Guard troops to border

    AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Rick Perry is deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border over the next month to combat what he said Monday were criminals exploiting a surge of children pouring into the U.S. illegally. ...

    July 22, 2014