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Saturday, October 23, 1999 Published at 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK

World: Africa

Nyerere laid to rest

Thousands lined up to see Dr Nyerere's body

Tanzania's founding father Julius Nyerere has been buried near the humble house where he was born 77 years ago.

[ image:  ]
Nearly 500,000 people from the surrounding area packed into Butiama, 1,400km (875 miles) north-west of the capital Dar es Salaam, for Saturday's ceremony.

Mourners wailed and several fainted as the former president's coffin was lowered into a roughly-dug grave.

Dr Nyerere ruled Tanzania from 1962 until 1985, when he voluntarily stepped down in.

He died of leukaemia in London last week, and his state funeral was held on Thursday in Dar es Salaam.

As six army generals lowered the coffin, a trumpet played the Last Retreat. President Benjamin Mkapa joined Dr Nyerere's family and close friends in tossing fistfuls of soil onto the coffin.

The BBC's Grant Ferrett reports on the state funeral in Dar es Salaam
After soldiers had sealed the grave, Dr Nyerere's widow, Maria Magie, knelt and laid her hand on the concrete slab on which she then placed a floral wreath.

The burial was broadcast live on radio and television.

30 days of mourning

The ceremony combined tribal and Roman Catholic traditions.

[ image: One of Dr Nyerere's daughter's views her father's coffin]
One of Dr Nyerere's daughter's views her father's coffin
Dr Nyerere was buried next to the graves of his parents. He was laid on his side, facing east.

His younger brother, Jackton Nyambereka Nyerere, said after the funeral: "The place where we bury him will now be his city.

"We decided to bury him facing east according to our custom. Unlike our father Burito, who was buried sitting down according to tradition, he wanted to be buried like a normal person."

In a grave-side eulogy, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni urged Tanzanians to do everything to preserve the peace and unity that "did not come out of the blue, but were products of Nyerere's hard work".

Dr Nyerere is still revered in Tanzania as the "father of the nation" after leading the country to independence.

The government has declared 30 days of mourning throughout the country.

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