Thousands of people, some holding spears and dressed in traditional warrior clothes, on Saturday attended the funeral of South Africa's divisive Zulu leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who was implicated in a wave of deadly violence that marked the country's emergence from apartheid.
Mourners crowded a small stadium in Ulundi, the ancient capital of the Zulu kingdom in eastern South Africa, to pay tribute to the founder of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), who died on September 9 aged 95.
Family members dressed in black, followed by men holding shields and spears, led a coffin covered by an animal skin and an IFP flag across a red carpet inside the stadium before it was placed under a black canopy on the pitch.
Earlier, members of the IFP Women's Brigade chanted "He has led us this far" in Zulu as guests including President Cyril Ramaphosa and his predecessor Jacob Zuma arrived at the venue, sitting under white marquees opposite an altar.
"He treated all of us Zulus as one person. That is why I am here," said Bonga Makhoba, 31, who said he drove 150 kilometres and slept in his car to attend the ceremony.
"I just respect him and I want him to... rest in peace."
Ramaphosa, who ordered flags to be flown at half staff across the country, was to deliver a eulogy during the service celebrated by the head of South Africa's Anglican Church.
"Buthelezi has been an outstanding leader in the political and cultural life of our nation, including the ebbs and flows of our liberation struggle," Ramaphosa had said when announcing Buthelezi's death last Saturday.
Buthelezi was once a rival of Ramaphosa and his former boss Nelson Mandela, as the pair led negotiations to end white rule in South Africa, and for years was locked in a bitter rivalry with the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
The party was his political home until he broke away to form the Inkatha movement in 1975.
Born of royal blood, he was to some the embodiment of a proud and feisty Zulu spirit, while to others he often acted as a warlord. (AFP)