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SA to bury its greatest son

ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says today SA is laying to rest its greatest son.

Deputy president of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, speaks during the funeral service of Nelson Mandela in his childhood village of Qunu on 15 December, 2013. Picture: AFP.

QUNU - ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has echoed President Jacob Zuma's words by saying today South Africa is laying to rest its greatest son.

Former president Nelson Mandela is being laid to rest in the village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape this morning, bringing to a close a 10-day period of national mourning.

Ramaphosa, who is the master of ceremonies, said Mandela is meant to be buried at midday and said he hopes the funeral programme will finish in time so traditional customs can be respected.

"In terms of the traditions and practices of the AbaThembu tribe in Qunu, a person of Mandela's stature is meant to be laid to rest when the sun is at its highest and when the shadow is at its shortest."

He announced there are 95 candles burning on stage to represent the years of Nelson Mandela's life.

"Behind me there are 95 candles that were lit early this morning around 5am. They represent the years of Madiba's life. This is an honour to him to remember the years he was on earth and especially the contribution he made to our country."

Ramaphosa introduced high profile guests, some of whom will be speaking during the ceremony.

He said for the past nine days, South Africa and the world have been reflecting on Madiba's legacy.

"There has been an outpouring of love and affection for Madiba, there has been celebration, there has been mourning as well, but many of us have also had moments to reflect."

He said during this time, people have been remembering their own Madiba moments, the times they either met him, the times they encountered him visually and the times they got to think about him.

_Click here for the full official state funeral programme _

FULL HEADS OF STATE & ROYAL GUEST LIST

  • African Union Commission Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

  • Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn

  • Ethiopian State Minister Getachew Reda Kahsay

  • Ethiopian State Minister Surafiel Mhreteab Abed

  • Former French prime minister Alain Juppe

  • Former French prime minister Lionel Jospin

  • Former Nigerian vice-president Abubakar Atiku

  • Former Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg

  • Former Tanzanian First Lady Maria Nyerere

  • Former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda

  • Head of the European Union in South Africa Roeland van der Geer.

  • Iranian Vice President Mohammad Shariatmadari

  • Lesotho Foreign Minister Mohlabi Kenneth Tsekoa

  • Lesotho's King Letsie III

  • Malawi President Joyce Banda

  • Malawian Foreign Minister Ephraim Mganda Chiume

  • Nicaraguan Vice President Omar Hallesleven Acevedo

  • Reverend Jessie Jackson

  • St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Denzil Douglas

  • St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Everard Gonsalves

  • Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard K Membe

  • Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete

  • Tanzania's CCM representative Vicky N Swai

  • The UK's Prince Charles

  • Zambian Foreign Minister Wilbur Simuusa

  • Zambian Vice President Guy Scott

Other VVIP guests include Oprah Winfrey and her partner Steadman Graham, multi billionaire Richard Branson, Oscar-winning actor Forrest Whitaker and Prince Charles amongst many others.