Nightly News   |  December 15, 2013

South Africa bids final goodbye to Nelson Mandela

Former South African president Nelson Mandela is laid to rest after a 10-day period of national mourning. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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>>> south africa bid an emotional farewell today to nelson mandela marking the end of a ten-day mourning. it was following a state funeral held in the humble village where he spent most of his childhood. richard engel was there.

>> reporter: it was the final stop on a long journey. where nelson mandela asked to be buried in the small village where he grew up. it was a grand state sendoff. but also a private farewell. in a massive tent by the mandela family graveyard, a few thousand invited guests, extended family , world leaders , old friends, prince charles among the mourners, oprah and richard branson .

>> he went to school with bare feet and in the end he rose to the highest office of the handled. it is within each us to achieve anything we want in life.

>> reporter: ahmed spent years jailed with nelson mandela .

>> i have lost a brother. my life is in a void and i don't know who to turn to.

>> reporter: in life and now death, mandela 's journey is the founding myth on which modern south africa is built. all across the country, crowds gathered to watch on large screens.

>> these people were not invited to attend the private ceremony but wanted to participate together. at least watching on it a big screen to mourn the passing of a man and the passing of an era. south africa 's current president, jacob zuma ,ments criticized for failing to live up to mandela 's moral standard. vowed to carry on the legacy.

>> the long walk to freedom has ended in the physical sense. our own journey continues.

>> reporter: and then at noon by tradition, when the sun was highest, the shadows shortest, he was let go. and south africa said nelson mandela was finally free. richard engel , nbc