Credit: Leroy Applin

With much ceremony, and with Winnie Madizikela-Mandela and Graça Mandela consoling each other in a moving tribute to the late icon, Nelson Mandela was laid to rest in the family plot in his ancestral home of Qunu, South Africa, on Sunday, Dec. 15.

Ten days of mourning followed the Dec. 5th death of Mandela after a prolonged illness. Leaders of the world attended his memorial services.

Amongst the dignitaries in attendance at his final homegoing was the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, pastor of the House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn, who took along his 24-year-old grandson Lorenzo Daughtry Chambers. They traveled with Bongani Sibeko, the Pan-Africanist representative
to the United Nations in the 1970s. 
Driving over 12 hours from Pretoria, the legislative capital of
 South Africa, to Qunu, in the Eastern Cape province, in his gracious and poetic manner, Daughtry described the landscape: “[There was a] spacious land mass that joined the sky on the
distant horizon: green grass and trees, low hills and high mountains,
sloping valleys containing scattered clusters of small houses on
ancestral land. Animals of all kinds roamed freely across the terrain. It was a journey of ‘brooding beauty,’ and it was, for me, deeply,
emotionally personal.”

According to Daughtry, the service for “this legend we call Nelson Mandela—Madiba [connected to
the Xhosa clan] and Tata [‘father’]” was held in a tent that looked more like “an outside conference
center.” Chandeliers hung from the ceiling, the reverend said, and “a huge portrait of Mandela looked out across 4,000 attendees, including family members, heads of state, members of the African
National Congress and celebrities from all walks of life.”

As seen on TV by millions, if not billions, of people worldwide, Madiba’s casket was draped in the national flag and rested on a carpet of
animal skins below the lectern where speakers delivered their tributes. Daughtry noted that speakers included family members, South African President Jacob
 Zuma, former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, Malawian President Joyce Banda and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete. The sermon was delivered by Bishop Z. Siwa. African National Congress Deputy Chairman Cyril 
Ramaphosa and Baleka Mbete were officiants.

Banda delivered a rousing eulogy: “We in the SADC [Southern African Development Community] region, whilst mourning his death, we also see this as an opportunity to celebrate the life of a great statesman, an icon from our region,” she said. “The life of Tata Mandela will continue to inspire those of us left behind to promote peace and security, deepen regional integration and work to support one another as it was during the fight against apartheid. We will strive to emulate Tata Mandela’s stature and spirit so that his legacy can live on.”

Banda may have struck the greatest chord when she said, “As an African woman and leader, I wish to acknowledge Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela for her efforts and steadfastness for standing with Tata Mandela before and during Tata’s imprisonment and for being in the forefront of ANC’s struggle for liberation.

“And to you, Mama Graça Machel, I wish to thank you for your visible love and care, especially during Tata’s last days. To both of you, the love and tolerance you have demonstrated before the whole world during the funeral has shown us that you are prepared to continue with Tata’s ideals. I wish to therefore appeal to all South Africans to remain united and continue to be a rainbow nation, for this is what Tata Madiba is cherished for.”

As the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Prince Charles and billionaire businessman Richard Branson sat in the audience, Daughtry said, “I was honored to have had my name called in the assemblage of the
world’s highest officeholders and world-renowned dignitaries by
Ramaphosa, recognizing me for my anti-apartheid work. One of the reasons I had come to this occasion was to represent the people who really were in the vanguard of the Free South Africa/Free Mandela Movement. They have sacrificed so much, and yet their names and contributions aren’t likely to be remembered.”

Daughtry recalled how as South African honor guards from the army, navy and air force marched in formation, the funeral party walked to the gravesite with a 21-gun salute while two squadrons of jet planes and helicopters took over the skies.

After the military completed their pomp and ceremony, Daughtry said that he went to the gravesite along with the Rev. Jesse Jackson and 15 South African ministers to perform the final funeral rituals.

“I was standing at the gravesite of a man who had risen from this small village not far away to become the president of the world. He had brought back to this humble village, with dotted farmlands and small houses, the world’s movers and shakers. This man, whose name it seems that I have been calling for so many years of my 55 years of ministry and whose freedom and rise to the presidency of South Africa I had played some small role in, as I and others led the Free South Africa/Free Nelson Mandela Movement,” said Daughtry.

“And now, here I stood, participating in the final ceremony. It was as though we had journeyed together and I had been summoned to say farewell at the end of his journey. I, among a select few, was here to witness and be a part of one of the greatest moments in history.”

This weekend, Daughtry recounted on his experience through his words and on film at his House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn. There was a discussion, and speakers included Karen Smith Daughtry, founder and President of Sisters Against South African Apartheid; Brooklyn Borough President-elect Eric Adams, who provided security at the church when Winnie Mandela visited; Assemblywoman Inez Barron; and Councilman Charles Barron.