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State funeral in the village Mandela called home

NELSON MANDELA has been accorded a state funeral, it was announced by South African president Jacob Zuma.

The service will be held on Sunday, December 15, in the modest village of Qunu in South Africa's Eastern Cape, where the former president grew up.

In his autobiography, A Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela described the hilly, rural, spot as the place where he had his earliest memories, and where he spent the happiest years of his boyhood.

He returned to the village, which is around 30km away from the nearest town of Mthatha, in 1990 after being released from prison and he built a relatively large house, spending his retirement there after 2004.

Mandela was always very generous to those living in and around Qunu.

He helped to renovate a clinic and schools in the area.

At his funeral ceremony, his body will be laid to rest in a family plot next to the remains of his other relatives,

They include his three deceased children, Madiba "Thembi" Thembekile, Makgatho and Mase, and his parents.

The tiny village now has a museum dedicated to the statesman, the Nelson Mandela Youth and Heritage Centre, which was opened on the 10th anniversary of his release, on February 11, 2000.

The remains of the primary school where he was given the name Nelson by his teacher are still visible in the village.

The church where he was baptised and the famous "sliding stone" that he would play on with friends as a child can also be seen.

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