updated 08/25/2015 AT 8:16 PM ET
•originally published 12/14/2013 AT 10:00 PM ET
Mandela’s casket was lowered into the earth after military pallbearers carried it to the family gravesite in the rolling hills of Qunu, the rural village in eastern South Africa, which was the childhood home of the anti-apartheid leader who became the country’s first democratically-elected president.
Banyanda Nyengule, head of the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha and Qunu, was one of the eyewitnesses to the private burial and said it hit him hard.
“I realized that the old man is no more, no more with us you know,” Nyengule said. “The moment when the coffin went down into the ground I felt too … emotional.”
South African television showed Mandela’s casket at the family gravesite, but the broadcast went to a different scene just before the coffin was lowered at the request of the Mandela family.
It was South Africa’s final goodbye to the man who reconciled the country in its most volatile period.