Anti-apartheid struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada's voice wavered on Sunday as he paid a moving final tribute to his fellow freedom fighter and close friend Nelson Mandela.
Addressing the late struggle icon by their mutual nickname "Madala", which means "old man" in Mandela's Xhosa language, Kathrada hailed the integrity and selflessness of his ally of 67 years.
"Farewell my dear brother, my mentor, my leader," the 84-year-old told a funeral service in Mandela's rural boyhood village of Qunu in South Africa's Eastern Cape province.
"I've lost a brother. My life is in a void and I don't know who turn to."
Mandela, Kathrada and six co-accused were sentenced to life imprisonment in June 1964 after being convicted of sabotage under South Africa's racist apartheid regime.
They arrived together at the Robben Island jail off the coast of Cape Town that same year, and spent 18 tough years imprisoned there together, doing back-breaking work in a lime quarry between periods of isolation.
They were later moved to other prisons, Kathrada freed in 1989 and Mandela the following year.
The two men had clashed early in their acquaintance, at a time when Mandela had reservations about black activists working too closely with communists and South Africans of Indian origin.
Mandela had objected to the African National Congress, then a revolutionary movement, joining a general strike called by the Indian Congress and Communist Party in 1950 to press for the abolition of discriminatory laws.
Kathrada had confronted him on his stance.
"Ahmed Kathrada was then barely 21, and like all youths, eager to flex his muscles," Mandela wrote in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom.
"Although I disagreed with Kathrada, I admired his fire, and it was an incident we came to laugh about," Mandela recalled.
The democracy icon, who died on December 5 aged 95, has described Kathrada as a true friend who held up a mirror in which he could see himself as he really was, warts and all.
"I first met him (Mandela) 67 years ago and I recall the tall, healthy strong man, the boxer, the prisoner who easily wielded the pick and shovel when we could not do so... the prisoner who rigorously exercised every morning," Kathrada said Sunday.
And he spoke of his pain at having seen his friend so frail in the last months of his life.
"How I wished I never had to confront what I saw. What I saw in hospital was a man helpless and reduced to a shadow of himself."
The last time he saw Mandela, Kathrada said, he was "filled with an overwhelming sadness".
"And now the inevitable has happened, he has left us to join the A team of the ANC," now South Africa's ruling party, which Mandela once led.
South Africa's grief was mingled with enormous pride at Mandela's achievements in forging peace and unity, said Kathrada -- and urged the new generation of leaders emulate his example.
"Madala, your abundant reserves of love, simplicity, honesty, service, humility, care, courage, foresight, patience, tolerance, equality, and justice continually served as a source of enormous strength for many millions of people in South Africa and the World," he said.
"It is up to the present generation and generations to come to pick up the cudgels that you have left.
"In all these challenges we will be guided continuously by your wisdom and by your actions."