At one spot overlooking Mandela's compound, several hundred people gathered to watch the televised ceremony. A group of Zulu traditional dancers with spears and shields gathered nearby to pay their last respects to Mandela.
"He's a first class guy in the world," dancer Musa Ngunbane said.
Ahmed Kathrada, an anti-apartheid activist who was jailed on Robben Island with Mandela, remembered his old friend's "abundant reserves" of love, patience and tolerance. He said it was painful when he saw Mandela for the last time, months ago in his hospital bed.
"He tightly held my hand, it was profoundly heartbreaking," Kathrada said, his voice breaking at times. "How I wish I never had to confront what I saw. I first met him 67 years ago and I recall the tall, healthy strong man, the boxer, the prisoner who easily wielded the pick and shovel when we couldn't do so."