by Stanley Karombo and Ntandoyenkosi Ncube
JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- South Africans tuned in to television broadcasts of the funeral of former president Nelson Mandela on Sunday, bidding their final farewell to "the father of the nation."
Mandela, the country's first democratically elected president, was laid to rest at his rural home of Qunu, Eastern Cape, buried next to his deceased relatives at the family grave site according to his wish.
Although many people could not make it to Madiba's funeral, people watched the proceedings either at their homes on television or on big screens set up in public places across the country.
Public mourning areas, where people could follow live proceedings of Madiba's funeral on giant screens, were fully packed in the early morning even before the funeral began.
Outside Mandela's former house in Vilakazi Street in the Johannesburg blacktownship of Soweto, known as the cradle of anti- apartheid struggle, a group of people converged, singing and dancing in eulogy to Mandela. Mandela lived in Vilakazi Street, Soweto for 16 years.
"I am here to say good by Dalibunga," Combela Songezwa said outside Mandela's home. Dalibunga is the circumcision name of Mandela given to him at his teenage age. "Rest in peace Dalibunga, " he added.
Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said it was befitting for residents of Soweto to gather at the Orlando Stadium to watch the funeral because "Madiba spent much of his life as a worker and as African National Congress (ANC) leader living in Soweto."
The Johannesburg city center became a hive of activity as mourners poured in to watch the televised funeral on an outdoor giant screen, many of them holding small South African flags.
With his eyes fixed on the big TV screen at the Orlando stadium in Soweto, Peter Adams, 40, said, "We're touched by the proceedings, and since Mandela passed away, these days have been emotional."
Sitting on a concrete ball, and wearing a T-shirt bearing Madiba's face, Sabelo Ndlangisa in his twenties said although it was sad to watch Mandela's funeral being screened live on TV, it was a moment the country had been prepared for.
"I have managed to start to understand that he's passed away. It wasn't a sudden death."
Themba Lungisi, 16, chipped in, "It's such an awesome feeling (watching the funeral). When the choir sang before the traditional leader, that's when I felt quite emotional."
Notwithstanding the unpredictable weather which fluctuated from cloudy to rainy, and cool to sunny, people remained transfixed to the funeral proceedings.
Some gathered outside his Houghton home in Johannesburg where he died on Dec. 5 and in Johannesburg business center Sandton.
"This was supposed to be a family program but because they (Mandela family) accept that their father was a shared icon. They gave him back to the people till his last day on earth," Sebastian Jacques said outside Mandela's Houghton house.
"I am here because I loved Mandela, I loved him so much he was a father to all of us black and whites," Jeremy Smith, a middle- age man, said at Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton where many were seen putting flowers under a giant Mandela statute.
Visible down-trodden and sorrowful people where seen standing at the Union Buildings in Pretoria where Madela's body was lied in state open for public viewing for three days.
"Mandela is gone he is no more. This is painful this is hard to accepted," Munyaradzi Choto, a Zimbabwean based in South Africa, said at Union Buildings.
Most of the shops were closed in Johannesburg to allow people to mourn and celebrate Mandela's on the final day of the 10-day mourning period.
Monwabisi Misi, who runs a shop in the city center, said he closed his shop because he could not miss the last chance to say good-by to Madiba.
"May his soul rest in Peace! Mandela taught others that to be free, others' rights must have to be respected and all people should be treated with dignity. Mandela was a great leader who taught the world the true meaning of freedom," Misi said.
Mandela, who died of illness on Dec. 5 at the age of 95, was buried alongside three of his deceased children -- his son Thembekile who died in a car crash in 1969 while Madiba was still in prison on Roben Island, his other son Makgato and his daughter Makaziwe.