MTHATHA, South Africa — Thousands of mourners lined the streets here to bid a raucous, heartfelt farewell to Nelson Mandela, the former president whose body arrived in this city in his native Eastern Cape Province on Saturday ahead of a state funeral and burial on Sunday
“Madiba, yo, my president!” people sang as they waited for his hearse to pass, hoping to catch one last glimpse of South Africa’s first black president. It whooshed by moments later, amid cheers and songs of lamentation, the flag-draped coffin visible through the thick panes of the Mercedes van that carried it to Qunu, the village where Mr. Mandela grew up and the place where he will be buried.
The body of Mr. Mandela was flown here from Pretoria, where he had lain in state for three days, after an emotional ceremony in which the military handed over the body of Mr. Mandela to the African National Congress, the party he led to victory in 1994, ending white rule.
“We are sending you back to Qunu,” President Jacob Zuma said in his eulogy. “We hope you rest in peace.”
Mr. Zuma, who for much of the service sat between Mr. Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel, and his former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was much better received by the select audience than he was by the much larger crowd at a public memorial on Tuesday, when he was booed. He has come under increasing scrutiny for his leadership of the party amid allegations of corruption in connection with the $20 million renovation of his private home, paid for with government money.
Mr. Zuma led the A.N.C. crowd in singing “Senzeni Na,” a mournful song from the fight against apartheid.
“What have we done,” he sang. “Our sin is blackness. Our sin is the truth. They are killing us. Let Africa return.”
The week of memorial events for Mr. Mandela has not been without missteps and embarrassing headlines. The man hired to provide interpretation for the deaf on Tuesday at the memorial in Soweto, standing a few feet from President Obama and other dignitaries, used incomprehensible sign language and later said he had a mental illness that sometimes caused him to react violently.
Then on Saturday, Desmond Tutu, the retired Anglican archbishop, said he had canceled plans to attend the funeral of Mr. Mandela, a fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate, after learning that his name was not on the list of accredited guests.
“Much as I would have loved to attend the service to say a final farewell to someone I loved and treasured, it would be disrespectful to Tata to gate-crash what was billed as a private family funeral,” the archbishop said in a statement, referring to Mr. Mandela by one of his many honorific nicknames. “Had I been informed I was invited, there’s no way on earth I would have missed it.”
But government officials said the archbishop, as an eminent citizen, was certainly invited and promised to clear up any misunderstanding. Archbishop Tutu has been critical of the A.N.C. in recent years over issues like corruption, police brutality and growing inequality.
In Mthatha, residents tried to see Mr. Mandela a final time as his cortege drove by.
“He is our father; we must welcome him home,” said Boneka Mpopoma, 48, a schoolteacher who walked several miles from her village to join the throng in paying tribute. She said that in the Xhosa culture, it was essential to be buried in the land of your ancestors. “You must bury him where he was born,” Ms. Mpopoma said. “He must rest with his father’s fathers.”
It is not customary to issue invitations for a funeral in the Xhosa tradition, village elders said, because everyone is welcome. But others expressed frustration that they would not be permitted to attend Mr. Mandela’s funeral.
“We are very disappointed that they didn’t let us see him,” said Sibongiseni Hloma, a clerk in the courts here. “In our culture, funerals are for the whole community. Nobody is invited because everyone is invited.”
Nomanono Molletye, a 61-year-old grandmother who came out to greet the motorcade, said Mr. Mandela, who hated the fussy world of V.I.P.s and protocol, would not have approved of the exclusion of ordinary people from his funeral. “Madiba always treated everybody the same,” Ms. Molletye said, referring to Mr. Mandela’s clan name. “There were no V.I.P.s to him.”
The state funeral will be held Sunday with extremely tight security under a vast domed marquee constructed for the occasion in the verdant hills adjacent to the house that Mr. Mandela built in Qunu. Security officers in plain clothes scolded a young man near the security cordon when he took out his cellphone to take a picture of the distant funeral site. If he took the picture, an official said, the officers would confiscate his camera.
Thousands of guests will be shuttled by bus to the event, and a number of heads of state and other prominent people will attend, including the presidents of several neighboring countries, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Prince Charles of Britain.
The state funeral will be televised, and Mr. Mandela will be buried in a private ceremony for the family shortly afterward, the government said.
John Eligon contributed reporting from Qunu, South Africa.