Pan Africa Newswire
Military officers carry the coffin of the former President Nelson Mandela to the Union building in Pretoria. He will lay in state for three days., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
11 December 2013
Last updated at 01:08 ET
BBC World Service
Mandela's body to lie in state at Union Buildings
The body of Nelson Mandela has arrived at the Union Buildings in Pretoria where it will lie in state for three days.
His remains were taken in procession from a hospital mortuary to the government buildings.
People lined the route to form a "guard of honour".
The public, as well as invited heads of state and international guests, will be able to view Mandela's body at the Union Buildings.
The former South African president died last Thursday, aged 95.
The country is observing a series of commemorations leading up to the funeral, which is being held in his home village of Qunu in Eastern Cape province on Sunday.
Tens of thousands of South Africans joined scores of world leaders for a national memorial service on Tuesday.
The procession left the city's 1 Military Hospital shortly after 07:00 (05:00 GMT) on Wednesday. The coffin could be seen inside a black hearse, draped in a South African flag.
It travelled along Kgosi Mampuru Street and Madiba Street on the way to the Union Buildings.
Mr Mandela's remains will make the journey from the military hospital every morning from Wednesday until Friday, the government has announced.
"The public are encouraged to form a guard of honour by lining the streets," it said.
The Union Buildings are the official seat of the South African government. It is where Mr Mandela was sworn in as the country's first black president in 1994.
The BBC's Nomsa Maseko outside the buildings says the mood in Pretoria is more sombre than at the memorial service on Tuesday, where crowds sang and danced in celebration.
There has never been a file past of this magnitude in South Africa, our correspondent adds.
At the memorial service on Tuesday, the current South African President, Jacob Zuma, announced he was renaming the Union Buildings the Mandela Amphitheatre.
The Mandela family and selected VIP visitors will be able to view the body from 10:00 local time (08:00 GMT) on Wednesday. Members of the public can file past the casket from 12:00 to 17:30.
The public will then be able to view the body from 08:00 to 17:30 on Thursday and Friday.
US President Barack Obama led the tributes to Mr Mandela at Monday's memorial service in rainy weather at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg.
He said the former South African president was a "giant of history", describing him as the last great liberator of the 20th Century.
"We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. While I will always fall short of Madiba (Mr Mandela's clan name), he makes me want to be a better man."
On Saturday, Mr Mandela's remains will be transported to the Eastern Cape from Air Force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
A military guard of honour will welcome the arrival. The coffin will then be placed on a gun carriage and then transported to a hearse.
Mr Mandela's body will then be taken to his home village of Qunu, where the Thembu community will conduct a traditional ceremony.
A national day of reconciliation will take place on 16 December when a statue of Mr Mandela will be unveiled at the Union Buildings.
Big screens have been set up across the country to show the planned national events.
Crowd at the soccer stadium where Nelson Mandela memorial took place. The crowd was restive and soaked with rain., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
SA forgotten at Mandela's memorial
South Africans have been forgotten in government's quest to give the world a memorial for Nelson Mandela that was meant to impress internationals
11 Dec 2013 06:52 Sarah Wild
On Tuesday, the people in FNB stadium did not get to say goodbye to Nelson Mandela.
You could see it in the empty chairs (a failure of public transport and the fact that it was a normal work day for the majority of Gautengers); you could see it in the restless crowd that wanted to sing and dance; you could see it in the heckling of President Jacob Zuma.
The government laid out an event that it thought was appropriate for the passing of a beloved statesman and a national hero: gravitas, world leaders, speeches, the odd musical interlude. But this programme shows they forgot what South Africans want and need: catharsis, the chance to celebrate a man who changed their lives and gave them freedom.
We do it loudly because that's how we show emotion; we dance, we sing. In the last five days at the homage sites around the country, it has been common to hear a foreign broadcaster or journalist ask: "I thought everyone was mourning. Why are they singing?"
At the FNB stadium, no matter how hard it tried to drive the event, the crowd became the backdrop of an event aimed at television cameras, speeches by people they had never heard of (speeches the crowds could not hear because of a dubious sound system), so that South Africans could hear how much other people appreciated Madiba.
At 5am, memorial goers were awaiting the first train from Park Station to FNB Stadium. People were not tired; they were exhilarated, and the ripe-smelling quay echoed with the sounds of Shosholoza and Nelson Mandela tribute songs. This vibe and atmosphere continued throughout the morning, through the cold rainy weather, as people nipped to the sheltered back rows in the stadium.
Where was the singing
Proceedings – meant to begin at 11am – ran late (this time because Western dignitaries rather than South Africans were late), but the good humour continued. Until the national anthem.
The sound system turned a full orchestra into a reedy, limp-handshake of melody, so much so that the first part of it was over before the crowds realised that it began. This was followed by speeches, many speeches.
Where was the singing and joy?
Memorial-goers were treated like children – effectively told to sit down and listen while important people talk – and we are not a people to take that lightly, or sitting down for that matter.
Where was the emotion from the speakers? When Zuma delivered the keynote address, he was wooden and didn't lift his eyes from his speech (although he may have felt the need to soldier on in light of the hostile and restless crowd). But this is a man renowned for his ability to address the public. Why did he not speak from the heart about a man who he knew?
On the streets
Where were the children? Mandela loved children, enjoyed being around them and took delight in their presence. But young South Africans did not feature on the programme.
On Tuesday night on Vilakazi streets, a marching band was playing while mourners continued to pay their respects to Mandela with flowers and song. The same thing happened in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Qunu, and the rest of the country.
The love, respect and gratitude South Africans have for their Tata are playing out in the streets, not in scripted events.
Republic of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe with First Lady Grace Amai arriving at the Soccer stadium in Johannesburg for the memorial for Nelson Mandela., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Rousing welcome for President in SA
December 11, 2013
From Mabasa Sasa in
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa
PRESIDENT Mugabe received a rapturous welcome from upwards of 50 000 people who packed the giant Soccer City Stadium here for the memorial service of former South African president Nelson Rohihlahla Mandela who passed on last week. Incessant rains threatened to wash out the emotional event which drew leaders from over 90 countries, among them pop and film stars as well as 10 former heads of state and government.
President Mugabe — who was accompanied by First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe and children Ms Bona and Chatunga — was among the scores of leaders present at the giant stadium where the upbeat crowd gave the masters of ceremony a hard time.
When the Master of Ceremonies, ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, announced that President Mugabe was among the dignitaries, his image was promptly beamed on the giant screens in the stadium drawing wild applause, cheers and blasts of vuvuzelas from the crowd that had earlier on jeered host President Jacob Zuma prompting the MC to skip Zuma’s name when he announced the dignitaries present to curb more jeers.
President Mugabe responded by smiling and waving to the crowd.
The other leaders who received similar acclaim were former South African president Thabo Mbeki, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and US president Barack Obama.
The stream of people — who included politicians, friends and family members – all said the same thing: Mr Mandela’s life was both long and well-lived.
After spending some 17 years as a firebrand anti-apartheid activist, Mr Mandela was jailed for 27 years only to swap his prison cell for the Office of the Presidency as South Africa’s firstdemocratically-elected leader.
It was this triumph of patience and principle over oppression that the 50 000-odd people at Soccer City chose to focus on, even as the
grieving visage of Mr Mandela’s widow – Graca Machel – and the incessant rain served to remind that it was death that had brought them all together.
The choice of Soccer City was inspired: This was the scene of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup Final, the first time the event was hosted on the continent, representing a sporting triumph that Africa still cherishes.
Royalty joined statesmen and women, and ordinary people from all over the world, in appreciating moving tribute after moving tribute that was given about Mr Mandela, a man who President Mugabe described as “a great champion of the emancipation of the oppressed” who was also “a humble and compassionate leader who showed selfless dedication to the service of his people”.
Family members, like General Thandaxolo and Mbuso Mandela, mixed it up with African Union Commission Chair Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, United Nations Secretary-General Mr ban Ki-moon, China’s Vice President Li Yuanchao and Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff in honouring Mr Mandela.
Cuba’s President Raul Castro Ruz recalled the strong bond between the Caribbean Island and Africa, drawing particular attention to the landmark battle of Cuito Carnavale.
It was at this battle in 1987 that Cuban, Angolan, South African and Namibian fighters dealt a hefty blow to apartheid’s military. This
paved the way for Namibia’s independence three years later, and South Africa’s within the decade.
Before US President Barack Obama told the crowd that Mr Mandela “speaks to what is best inside us”, gospel stars Kirk Franklin and Joyous Celebration whipped up already charged spirits with fine singing.
This was not time for dirges, those will come soon enough. Instead, happy song, dance and bright colours sat quite easily with the shrouds and the black suits worn by some present.
Through the rain, applause and cheering were commonplace.
The biggest ovations were reserved for (naturally) President Zuma, Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), Joyce Banda (Malawi), Obama and – as has become usual all over Africa – President Mugabe.
Namibia’s President Hifikepunye Pohamba, many of whose fellow Swapo members shared apartheid prison cells with Mr Mandela at Robben Island, delivered a sombre address in which he characterised the late freedom fighter as a “symbol of fundamental human values”.
These values, President Pohamba said, were freedom, peace and justice.
On concluding, the crowds broke into song once more – still undaunted by the pouring rain – much to the irritation of one of the MCs, ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who repeatedly tried to quiet them so that the programme could move along.
When Mr Ramaphosa was able to regain a measure of control, India’s President Pranab Mukherjee gave an outline of the extraordinary ties between the two countries and the similarities between their respective great leaders.
And then it was President Zuma’s turn to recount that Mr Mandela was a courageous leader who was “able to abandon narrow concerns for bigger, all-embracing dreams, even if such dreams came at a huge cost”.
Quoting from a popular folk song, President Zuma said “there was no one like Mandela – he was one of a kind”.
“Today on International Human Rights Day, we celebrate Mandela, a man of peace; today on the 20th anniversary since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1993, this freedom fighter”.
President Zuma noted that Mr Mandela was not afraid to fight, as he was instrumental in radicalising the ANC and was the first Commander-in-Chief of the armed wing of Africa’s oldest liberation movement.
As the crowds took their celebrations from the giant Soccer City and onto the streets of Johannesburg, there were many promises to
reconvene today (Wednesday) at Union Buildings for what promises to be a more sombre affair: the body viewing.
President Mugabe will be there, as will Amai Grace Mugabe and thousands of other people.
The week-long national mourning will come to an end with the burial of Mr Mandela in his ancestral village of Qunu in Eastern Cape Province.
Mr Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in Umtata in Transkei.
In the 1940s he was to increasingly move away from his law career and gravitate to the centre of national politics, being subsequently influential in the expulsion of an ANC President and formation of the Youth League.
As is well-known, he was to be jailed for close to three decades but in 1993 the ex-prisoner was to become a Nobel Peace Prize winner, an honour he shared with the last president of apartheid, FW de Klerk.
What followed was a convincing victory for the ANC in the 1994 elections and Mr Mandela’s elevation to the Presidency of the country.
After retiring in 1999, Mr Mandela was to make his last public appearance at the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
In recent months, his health deteriorated and South Africa and the world finally faced up to the reality of Mr Mandela’s mortality.
Miners in Zimbabwe where diamonds are a substantial portion of the national exports. Anjin is retrenching nearly 1000 workers., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Diamond mining firm retrenches 950
December 11, 2013
Mining constituted US$2 billion of the US$3,3 billion total exports in 2012, meaning the lion’s share oiled foreign economies
Lloyd Gumbo Herald Reporter
Anjin Investments has retrenched at least 950 workers out of close to 1 800 people since it started operations in 2010. About 190 of the remaining 845 workers still face the chop as the company targets to remain with at least 655 workers by March next year.
Anjin director Mr Munyaradzi Machacha, disclosed this during a tour of the diamond mining firms in Chiadzwa by Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa last week.
He said the actions were cost-cutting measures on the back of depletion of alluvial diamonds forcing them to dig deeper for conglomerates which he said were not commercially viable using current technology.
“At the beginning, we had a workforce of about 1 300 Zimbabweans and 500 Chinese to make a total of 1 800,” said Mr Machacha.
“We have since reduced the number of Zimbabweans to about 750 and the Chinese (about) 95. We intend through natural wastage to reduce this figure further to about 560 Zimbabweans by March.
“We are taking these measures in order to remain viable. We have also put some of the machinery on idle mode. Of the seven processing plants that we have, we are only using four at the moment.”
Mr Machacha said some of the dump trucks, excavators and front-end loaders were inactive.
Meanwhile, Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Christopher Mushohwe, said diamond mining companies were still to honour their Community Share Ownership Trust under Marange-Zimunya.
Villagers, he said, were livid with the companies after promising to disburse the money after launching of the Trust.
He made the remarks at DMC, which was Minister Chidhakwa’s first port of call during his three-day familiarisation tour.
“There were pledges given to the extent that even the President was given a US$1,5 million (paper) cheque to show to people that this is money coming from this company, one of you. But to date, nothing has been remitted and yet we have 50 percent shareholding as Government.
“People look around and say private companies without Government are complying. Why is it that our partners in Government are not complying? It doesn’t speak well of us as a Government.
“It doesn’t speak well of you as our partner,” said Minister Mushohwe.
He said there was no more land for relocating families that were still in the mining concession after Minister Chidhakwa asked DMC management if they still had families to be relocated.
“Yes there are 84 families in concession E and around 256 in concession Q. We will be relocating them soon,” said DMC chairperson Retired Brigadier General Ezekiel Zabanyana.
But Minister Mushohwe interjected asking them where they would relocate them when space was exhausted to which Rtd Brig Zabanyana said they would approach the former’s office for guidance.
Minister Chidhakwa also toured Arda Transau where families were relocated.
Some of the projects done by the companies that he toured include schools and shops.
Resettled families expressed their gratitude for the diamond companies’ generosity though others expressed concern with the delay in some projects.
The villagers said they wanted electricity at the schools and their homes.
But Minister Chidhakwa said it was important for villagers to appreciate that there was a need for companies to balance between making profit and fulfilling their community obligations.
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan is being targeted for regime change in the oil-rich nation in central Africa. The imperialists charge genocide while they impoverish and kill millions around the globe., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Analysis: Sudan's Bashir empowers old army ally, tightens grip
Tue, Dec 10 2013
By Khalid Abdel Aziz and Maggie Fick
KHARTOUM/CAIRO (Reuters) - Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir's appointment of an old military ally as his deputy may shield one of Africa's longest-serving rulers from risks at home and abroad.
In a government shake-up, Bashir named Lieutenant General Bakri Hassan Saleh - a confidant who helped him stage his 1989 coup and crush many rebellions - as first vice president, replacing veteran politician Ali Osman Taha.
By positioning Saleh one step away from his own job, Bashir may be crafting a strategy to avoid being handed over to the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide if he keeps his promise to step down in 2015.
The reshuffle announced on Sunday by Bashir underscores the diminishing role of Islamists such as Taha as the president turns to more trusted allies in the military, an organization important to his survival in a country with a history of coups.
"(Saleh) is a political clone of Bashir, and his appointment consolidates the military at the heart of politics," Alex de Waal, a Sudan expert and head of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University in the United States.
"This is Bashir's protection plan and signals that (he) may be ready to step aside if (Saleh) is his successor."
While Sudan has avoided sustained political unrest seen in other Arab states over the last three years, Bashir and his ruling cadre have been on more fragile ground since the oil-rich south of Sudan broke away in 2011 after voting for independence, depriving the north of badly-needed revenues.
Facing rivals within his own ruling National Congress Party, Bashir's government has struggled to cope with a tanking economy and rising inflation since the South's secession.
Aside from still-simmering revolts near the border with South Sudan and an unresolved conflict in the western Darfur region, Bashir has recently faced troubles close to home.
A government decision to cut fuel subsidies in September to ease the financial crunch served as a reminder that he must tread cautiously in a region where protests have toppled several autocratic Arab leaders since 2011.
The move doubled pump prices overnight and triggered violent demonstrations in which dozens of people were killed. Thousands of Sudanese demanded that Bashir step down in the biggest opposition rally for years.
The crackdown by security forces also drew criticism from within his own party.
Overseas, Bashir has arrest warrants hanging over him by the ICC on charges of orchestrating war crimes and genocide in Darfur. Sudan dismisses the ICC charges, saying reports of mass killings in Darfur have been exaggerated, and refuses to recognize the court, which it says is part of a Western plot.
Since he came to power as an obscure army brigadier in a bloodless coup, Bashir has skillfully played divide-and-rule politics with rival factions among the security services, the military, Islamists and armed tribes.
The strategy has worked. In his 24 years in power, Bashir has weathered multiple armed revolts, U.S. trade sanctions, the loss of vital oil to South Sudan and, more recently, a coup attempt by disgruntled officers and Islamists.
Given the array of security challenges and threats to his iron rule, Bashir's choice to install Saleh may prove to be a masterstroke.
He is regarded as a part of a cadre of officers whose interests are served by backing the 69-year old Bashir to avoid international prosecution themselves.
Although Saleh, 64, does not face charges at The Hague, Human Rights Watch has said he should be investigated for his role in Darfur crimes. Saleh served as defense minister in the early stages of the Darfur war that the United Nations says has killed more than 300,000 people.
"The reshuffle in a way is quite a safe strategy to ensure that Bashir is not made vulnerable," said Cedric Barnes of the International Crisis Group, citing the risk of the ICC.
Taha, who was removed in the government shake-up, would have been the succession candidate preferred by many Western diplomats, who hoped his more moderate views might open a new chapter in relations.
Taha, 68, was the most significant remaining Islamist in Bashir's government and was seen as a potential challenger for the presidency in an election due in 2015. He remains in the position of vice chairman in Bashir's party.
Wary of unrest spreading around the Arab world, Bashir said in 2011 that he would not contest the election. He has since been less clear-cut, saying the decision would be made by his National Congress Party.
Bashir is not taking chances either way.
Saleh has been in Bashir's inner circle since the two trained and later fought together as paratroopers before deposing President Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of Sudan's last elected civilian government.
Saleh has been described as "an efficient and sinister defender of the revolution" by historians Millard Burr and Robert Oakley Collins - using the officers' name for their coup.
Shortly after the takeover, he was assigned to restructure the National Security bureau in the interior ministry.
Under his supervision, a security apparatus that became notorious for human rights abuses was formed.
Saleh was promoted to first vice president from the position of minister for presidential affairs, which he has held since 2005. The majority of the new appointments have military or state security backgrounds and are close to Bashir.
Defence Minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein held on to his post. Like Bashir, he faces Darfur-related charges at the ICC.
"Decision-making is now totally in the hands of Bashir, with two officers at his side," said a Sudan expert based in the region who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The cabinet reshuffle was a major blow to Sudan's opposition, with some describing it as a new military coup.
"Now the military and security institutions are singularly leading the country," said Kamel Amr, spokesman for a coalition of the country's most prominent opposition parties.
"We in the opposition see that the very narrow margin of space for freedom in the past will disappear because of the new arrivals from the military."
(Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Tom Perry and Michael Georgy/Mark Heinrich)
Zueitina oil terminal located near Benghazi, Libya has been the scene of labor unrest. The industry in Libya is no facing a downturn in production after the imperialist overthrow of Gaddafi., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Libya Militia to Open Oil Terminals in December
CAIRO December 10, 2013
The Libyan militia that shut down most of the country's oil terminals for months causing the loss of millions of dollars said Tuesday that terminals will reopen on Dec. 15.
Ibrahim Jedran, leader of the militia, made his remarks after meeting influential tribal leaders and mediators of the al-Magharba tribe in eastern Libya.
Jedran, a former rebel in 2011's eight-month Western-backed war against longtime Pan-Africanist Moammar Gadhafi, reiterated earlier demands to form a committee to redistribute oil revenues between the country's three main regions.
The closure of the terminals was first justified as an attempt to curb corruption in oil sales, however militia leaders pressed the government to change the country's political system and distribute oil revenues more equally.
Since the 2011 Pentagon-CIA-NATO war of regime change resulting in the overthrow of the Gaddafi government and his brutal extrajudicial murder, Libya has fallen hostage to militia groups challenging the central government and threatened its transition to democratic rule.
Jedran, head of the so-called Political Bureau of Barqa, is a leading advocate of a federal state in which each region has some autonomy as was the case from 1951 until 1963 under King Idris when Libya was divided into three regions: Cyrenaica, or Barqa, Tripolitania and Fezzan. Like other Libyan regions, easterners have long complained of discrimination by the central government in Tripoli.
He added, "if the government didn't respond, the Barqa Political Bureau would have had have another position." He hinted that he might not reopen the terminals if the government didn't meet his conditions.
Tribal leader Saleh al-Atyoush described the meeting as "exceptional" and said he and others had mediated to ensure the reopening, stressing his tribe has not played a role in the shutdown. He added: "The Libyan people are frustrated and the government threatens to stop salaries."
Earlier this month, rebel Prime Minister Ali Zidan said that the government is spending billions of dollars from its foreign reserves to compensate the losses of oil revenues. Libya has been losing millions of dollars every day after production dropped from 1.4 billion barrels a day to a few thousand since the closure.
A column of Al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia. The organization reported that it ambushed and killed 30 Kenyan troops involved in a US-backed invasion of the Horn of Africa state., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
KENYA: Gunmen kill eight Kenyans near Somali border
DECEMBER 10, 2013
Gunmen killed eight Kenyans including five policemen Tuesday in an ambush in the troubled northeast border region close to war-torn Somalia, police said.
Insurgents sprayed a police patrol with gunfire near the border town of Liboi, also leaving some officers badly wounded, in the latest in a string of attacks in the restive region.
“Five were killed on the spot when they were ambushed out on patrol, and we are told many bullets were fired on their vehicle,” said a senior police officer who asked not to be named. “Three civilians were also killed in the attack.”
Two other policemen were badly wounded, he added.
The identity of the perpetrators remains unclear, but such attacks against police and other targets are frequent along Kenya’s porous border with Somalia and are routinely blamed by the authorities on the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab.
The region along Kenya’s 700-kilometre (400-mile) border with Somalia has seen a series of attacks, mainly on police but also against hotels and restaurants.
Liboi, some 550 kilometres (340 miles) northeast from the capital Nairobi, hosts a military base and is used by the army as a staging point to supply troops fighting the Shebab as part of an African Union force inside southern Somalia.
Samuel Arachi, Kenya’s deputy police inspector, confirmed the attack.
“There has been an attack which has left our officers and civilians dead, we have mobilised security to get the attackers,” Arachi said.
The attack comes as Kenya gears up to celebrate 50 years of independence on Thursday from former colonial masters Britain.
Kenya has said border security has been stepped up since the Shebab claimed responsibility for Nairobi’s Westgate mall massacre in September in which at least 67 people were killed.
The Shebab have been driven out of fixed positions from major towns in Somalia by the UN-mandated AU force, but still regularly launch attacks that include bombs and guerrilla-style raids.
South African presidential spokesperson for President Jacob Zuma, Mac Maharaj, at the Nelson Mandela memorial on December 10, 2013., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Zuma booing not a crisis in our democracy, says Maharaj
Mac Maharaj has brushed off the heckling of President Jacob Zuma by sections of the crowd at Nelson Mandela's memorial, saying it was over quickly.
10 Dec 2013 19:07 Deshnee Subramany
Mail & Guardian
Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj.
Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj has shrugged off the booing President Jacob Zuma received at the memorial for Nelson Mandela.
On Tuesday, Zuma was jeered at by groups in the crowd that gathered for Mandela's memorial at FNB Stadium.
But while thousands cheered loudly when US President Barack Obama arrived and later made his moving speech, Zuma received a less welcoming reception from some in the crowd. They booed when he arrived, as well as when he was spotted on the big screens in the stadium and when he too took to the podium to address mourners.
In an interview with Talk Radio 702's Udo Carelse, Maharaj scoffed after the host asked if the presidency was embarrassed by the crowd's reaction.
"It passed – in four minutes it was over, and it didn't happen again," he said. "We will not take a small event and make it into a crisis in our democracy."
Maharaj said the sounds came from a "small part" of the crowd who wanted to take advantage of "an international stage".
But he maintained that Zuma remained a popular leader.
"It was out of keeping with the decorum of the event, which was not a party political event ... I think it was a small part of people in the stands, and I think when Zuma stood to speak he was enthusiastically received," he said.
The spokesperson said the response from the audience was an aspect of a participatory democracy, but the nature of democracy changed. He added that people would learn we no longer "have to fight things through confrontation. Now we have a set of rules and a playing field" to settle disputes. "That's how we will make a better South Africa," he said.
When asked by Carelse if he did not think the booing could have been from people disappointed with recently contentious issues such as Nkandla and e-tolls, Maharaj neatly avoided dealing with the president's homestead and focused on the tolling project that recently went life.
"This is a democracy. E-tolling was decided upon democratically by an elected Parliament. It went through four courts," he explained. "We are in danger of undermining the current democracy we fought for."
Crowd at the Nelson Mandela memorial in South Africa. Despite the pouring rain thousands came out to celebrate Madiba's life., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Ramaphosa tells rowdy Mandela memorial crowd to stay dignified
Crowds at Nelson Mandela's memorial have poured out their emotions, singing and booing, to the point that Cyril Ramaphosa had to call for calm.
10 Dec 2013 14:24 Sipho Kings
Intermittently heavy rain kept the audience at Mandela’s memorial service from sitting in the lower tiers, but it was in the upper levels that unrest has been brewing.
One vocal section of the crowd sitting high up in the stand, clad in red Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) shirts, drew the ire of ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa. By singing appropriated struggle songs whenever he spoke, and overwhelming the often weak stadium sound system, they forced him into publicly asking for them to calm down.
The request created a mini exodus from the lower levels, with yellow and red-clad people rushing up the walkways to the very top of the stadium to join their respective sides. Marshals quickly stopped this, but the small EFF group was overwhelmed by people in yellow.
Their chants were rapidly drowned out by the singing of ANC groups, and their members left the stands before US President Barack Obama spoke to hold their own march inside the stadium. With little active policing to control people, the crowd at FNB Stadium has been free to go where it wants. The heavy rain has separated the crowd into those with umbrellas that can sit close to the pitch and stage with world leaders, and those who have to stand in the eaves to escape being soaked. It has been an exercise in passive policing.
Groups of chanting and dancing attendees have been allowed to move around the tunnels that connect all the parts of the stadium. After a few circuits each one of these has worn down and returned to its chosen seating area.
With the upper tiers packed because they are covered from the rain, this has been the area of the most noise. The booing has, in general, been reserved for every mention of President Jacob Zuma's name and all his appearances on the two giant screens in the stadium. This has come from the mainly yellow ANC parts of the stadium.
"This president has failed us and yet they celebrate president Mandela as if he would have accepted the way they are running this country," said Thobane Makope. Dressed in red from head to toe, he joined the group of around 100 as it wound its way down stairs and along the corridors of the stadium.
"They are disrespectful of Tata Madiba," chanted the group in pauses between more traditional struggle songs. These drew the participation of passersby in yellow and white ANC shirts, and also derisory shouts about their chances in the next election.
As the group circled the corridors inside the stadium, it gradually ran out of energy as members dissipated.
Republic of South Africa President Jacob Zuma addressing the memorial services for former President Nelson Mandela. The services were held on December 10, 2013., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.Zuma renames Union Buildings amphitheatre to honour Madiba
President Jacob Zuma has announced the Union Buildings amphitheatre will change its name to honour Nelson Mandela.
10 Dec 2013 17:12 Mmanaledi Mataboge
Part of South Africa's seat of government, the Union Buildings amphitheatre, will change its name to the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre. President Jacob Zuma announced this on Tuesday during his speech to pay tribute to Mandela at a memorial service held at FNB Stadium in Soweto.
"I have the honour today to announce that the Union Buildings Amphitheatre, where Madiba was inaugurated as president in 1994, and where his body will lie in state, will with effect from today be called the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre," said Zuma.
He said this was a fitting tribute to Mandela, who transformed the Union Buildings "from a symbol of racism and repression to one of peace, unity, democracy and progress".
Cheers from the crowd followed this announcement.
Although Zuma was booed several times by a section of the crowd attending the memorial service before he delivered his speech, order was restored by police who broke up groups of people singing during Zuma's address. Some of them were moved from the places they occupied at the stadium.
In his speech, Zuma said Mandela's death marked "an unprecedented outpouring of grief across the world, yet it is grief tinged with admiration and celebration".
Cause for celebration
He told mourners that it was a cause for celebration that they are Madiba's compatriots and have lived during his time.
"Never before has our country celebrated a life as we are doing with that of Madiba. We do not call Madiba the father of our rainbow nation merely for political correctness and relevance. We do so because he laid a firm foundation for the South Africa of our dreams – one that is united, nonracial, nonsexist, democratic and prosperous."
He called Mandela a courageous leader, the type that is able to abandon their narrow concerns for bigger and all-embracing dreams even if those dreams come at a huge price.
"He was a fearless freedom fighter, who refused to allow the brutality of the apartheid state to stand in the way of the struggle for the liberation of his people," Zuma told the mourners.
"Being a lawyer, he understood the possible consequences of his actions. But he also knew that no unjust system could last forever."
Zuma acknowledged Mandela's achievements, among them the dismantling of the legal framework of apartheid and transformation of many state institutions that he said led to the visible improvement of the socioeconomic conditions of millions of South Africans.
He also acknowledged Madiba's contribution to fighting Aids through his international 46664 campaign.
Zuma said Mandela leaves behind "a nation that loves him dearly, a continent that is truly proud to call him an African and people of the world who embraced him as their beloved icon and most importantly, a deeply entrenched legacy of freedom, human rights and democracy in our country."
"In his honour we commit ourselves to continue building a nation based on the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.
"United in our diversity, we will continue working to build a nation free of poverty, hunger, homelessness and inequality."
Mandela's body will lie in state for three days from Wednesday before being transported to Qunu in the Eastern Cape, where he'll be buried on Sunday.
Mandela memorial: Zuma's full speechRead President Jacob Zuma's full address at the Nelson Mandela memorial at the FNB Stadium on Tuesday.10 Dec 2013 16:16 Staff ReporterPresident Jacob Zuma's full address at the Nelson Mandela memorial:
"Mama Graca Machel, mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela and the entire Mandela family and the abaThembu clan,
Excellencies heads of state and government,
Excellencies former heads of state and government,
Deputy presidents and representatives of governments,
Heads of international organisations in all regions of the world,
The leadership of the ANC and alliance partners,
Leaders of fraternal political organisations in Africa and abroad,
Activists of the former anti-apartheid movement,
Eminent persons, friends of South Africa from all over the world,
Fellow South Africans,
South Africans sing a popular freedom song about former president Nelson Mandela.
We sing that he is one of a kind, that there is no one quite like him. Nelson Mandela, Nelson Mandela akekho ofana naye.
The song is one of the most accurate descriptions of this global icon who is the founding president of a free and democratic South Africa and also the former president of the oldest liberation movement in the continent, the ANC.
His passing has marked an unprecedented outpouring of grief across the world. Yet, it is grief, tinged with admiration and celebration.
Everyone has had a Mandela moment, when this world icon has touched their lives.
Let me begin therefore, by thanking all the heads of state and government and international delegations present here today.
We also extend our deepest gratitude for the messages of condolence that we continue to receive.
The Mandela family, the South African people and the African continent as a whole, feel stronger today, because we are being comforted by millions throughout the world.
Dear South Africans,
That we are Madiba's compatriots and have lived during his time, is a cause for a great celebration and enormous pride.
Never before has our country celebrated a life as we are doing with that of Madiba.
We do not call Madiba the father of our rainbow nation merely for political correctness and relevance.
We do so because he laid a firm foundation for the South Africa of our dreams – one that is united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous.
We do so because Madiba was a courageous leader.
Courageous leaders are able to abandon their narrow concerns for bigger and all-embracing dreams, even if those dreams come at a huge price.
Madiba embodied this trait. He was a fearless freedom fighter who refused to allow the brutality of the apartheid state to stand in the way of the struggle for the liberation of his people.
Being a lawyer, he understood the possible consequences of his actions. But he also knew that no unjust system could last forever.
He said at an ANC Youth League conference in 1951;
"True, the struggle will be a bitter one. Leaders will be deported, imprisoned, and even shot.
"The government will terrorise the people and their leaders in an effort to halt the forward march; ordinary forms of organisation will be rendered impossible. But the spirit of the people cannot be crushed … until full victory is won."
The struggle became Madiba's life.
He was at the forefront of the radical change in the ANC in the 1940s, advancing the long walk to freedom.
He became a volunteer in chief during the Defiance Campaign in the early 1950s and became the first commander in chief of the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto We Sizwe, in the early 1960s.
He paid dearly for his beliefs and actions through imprisonment.
He stated in 1962;
"I was made, by the law, a criminal, not because of what I had done, but because of what I stood for, because of what I thought, because of my conscience."
Arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment during the Rivonia Trial later in 1964, he never lost his fighting spirit.
For 27 years, the South African people spoke about him in hushed tones, out of fear. In fact, if the apartheid government had its way, they would have been banned even from thinking about Madiba.
But the powerful name of Nelson Mandela lived on.
He continued to inspire our people every single day, from inside prison walls.
He demonstrated unique leadership in starting negotiations with the enemy whilst in prison. He also negotiated for the release of his fellow political prisoners first before his own release.
His release from Victor Verster prison on the 11th of February 1990 was one of the most remarkable and moving moments in world history.
The world came to a standstill watching this tall imposing figure walking out into a world he had left behind 27 years before.
The emotions and feelings we felt on that day are difficult to express in human language.
A downtrodden people who had been dehumanised and made to feel like pariahs in the land of their birth, suddenly saw signs that freedom would be attained in their lifetime.
South Africa needed a leader like Madiba to help us through a difficult transition from apartheid to a free democratic society.
In the bumpy road to our historic first free and fair elections, there are many times that he brought our nation back from the brink of catastrophe.
The massacre at Boipatong in 1992 and the killing of the popular leader of our people, Chris Hani in 1993, are some of the occasions when our country faltered in its long walk to freedom, when we stared into the heart of darkness.
It is at these times that Madiba restored a sense of calm and purpose and brought us back on the road to freedom.
South Africa's first democratic elections were largely peaceful because of this leadership that he displayed.
Indeed, there is no one like Madiba. He was one of a kind.
Today, on International Human Rights Day, we celebrate Madiba the man of peace. Today is the 20th anniversary of his being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, on the 10th of December 1993.
This freedom fighter had always stated that the ANC had resorted to arms because of the intransigence of the apartheid regime which responded with violence, bannings and detentions to simple demands for equal citizenship, human rights and justice.
To him, for South Africa to attain peace, the armed struggle was inevitable, but it was a means to an end but not an end in itself.
Madiba's love for peace was also evident in the work he did in the continent. The people of Burundi enjoy peace and democracy today because of the seeds of peace planted by Madiba.
Following the historic national elections on April 27 1994, an unprecedented number of Heads of State and Government and eminent persons from around the world descended upon our shores for Madiba's inauguration as the first president of a free and democratic South Africa.
Today, the whole world is standing still again, to pay tribute to this greatest son of South Africa and Africa.
There is no one like Madiba, he was one of a kind.
The world speaks fondly of Madiba's promotion of unity, reconciliation and non-racialism during his Presidency.
He had declared as follows during trial in 1964;
"The ANC has spent half a century fighting against racialism. When it triumphs it will not change that policy".
Thus his promotion of non-racialism and reconciliation during his tenure as president of the Republic was not surprising.
Compatriots and friends
Speaking at the adoption of a new Constitution of the Republic adopted in 1996, Madiba outlined the vision of the new society.
"Let us give practical recognition to the injustices of the past, by building a future based on equality and social justice.
"Let us nurture our national unity by recognising, with respect and joy, the languages, cultures and religions of South Africa in all their diversity.
"Let tolerance for one another's views create the peaceful conditions which give space for the best in all of us to find expression and to flourish. Above all, let us work together in striving to banish homelessness, illiteracy, hunger and disease."
With the magnitude of challenges facing the young South Africa in mind, Madiba set about uniting the nation.
He carefully managed the anger and frustrations of both the oppressors and the oppressed, and reminded us of our common humanity that transcended racial boundaries.
He also managed both the fears of the minority and the high expectations and impatience of the majority.
He told us that the promises of democracy would not be met overnight and that the fears of the few would not be allowed to derail the newly won freedom.
We all agreed with him, as Madiba never hesitated to speak his mind when it was necessary to do so, regardless of how uncomfortable the words may be to recipients!
Many leaders, some of whom are present here today, have experienced his sharp tongue.
Realising the power of sport to conquer prejudice, former president Mandela embraced South Africa's 1995 Rugby World Cup ambitions, donning the Springbok jersey at a time when it was much-maligned by the majority of the population.
This would be a hallmark of his Presidency.
Our sports teams yearned for the "Madiba magic"that his visit would bring, each time they faced formidable opponents.
Beyond promoting reconciliation, Madiba also laid a firm foundation for transformation as well as reconstruction and development.
He knew that reconciliation without transformation and reconstruction, would be
Under his leadership, the new democratically elected government focused on addressing historical injustices and creating new institutions to facilitate the building of a democratic society based on the principles of non-racialism and non-sexism.
Close to 800 racist apartheid laws were removed from the statute books in the first 10 years of democracy.
The dismantling of the legal framework of apartheid and transformation of many state institutions led to the visible improvement of the socio-economic conditions of millions of people.
Thus, Madiba laid a foundation for a better life for all, which was the rallying cry of his Presidency.
Madiba also laid the foundation for our country's now successful fight against one of the greatest scourges of our time, that of HIV and Aids, while still in office and during his retirement.
The global 4 666 4 campaign gave birth to Mandela Day, a global call to action, mobilising people to spend at least 67 minutes helping those in need.
In November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly declared the 18th of July as Nelson Mandela International Day.
Each year on the 18th of July, the world comes together to celebrate Mandela Day, recognising Madiba's selfless sacrifice in betterment of others.
Indeed, Madiba was one of a kind.
Bantu baseNingizimu Africa,
Silahlekelwe kakhulu ngobaba wesizwe uTata uMadiba.
Siyazi benimthanda kakhulu, futhi nisamthanda kakhulu namanje.
Leliqhawe liyibekile induku ebandla. Sikhumbula namhlanje leliVolontiya elikhulu likaKhongolose.
Sikhumbula umkhuzi wokuqala wamabutho oMkhonto weSizwe.
Sikhumbula iqhawe elalizimisele ngisho nokufa imbala, ukuze abantu abamnyama bathole inkululeko.
Sikhumbula iqhawe elalwela ukuthi abantu baseNingizimu Africa baphile ngentokozo ezweni elingenakho ukwesaba, elingenanhlupheko nalapho abantu belingana bonke khona.
Yingakho nje sithi akekho ofana no-Tata uMadiba.
Compatriots and friends,
While saying Madiba was one of a kind, we also remember that he believed in collective leadership and that he never wanted to be viewed as a messiah or a saint.
He emphasised that all his achievements were derived from working with the ANC collective, among whom in his own words, were men and women who were more capable than he was.
Thus, the South Africa that you see today, is a reflection of Madiba and many others like him, who sacrificed their lives for a free nation.
We thus remain truly grateful to his peers, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Reginald Tambo, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Dorothy Nyembe, Florence Mophosho and countless others who left indelible marks in the history of our struggle.
Compatriots and friends,
Today Madiba is no more.
He leaves behind a nation that loves him dearly.
He leaves a continent that is truly proud to call him an African.
He leaves the people of the world who embraced him as their beloved icon.
Most importantly, he leaves behind a deeply entrenched legacy of freedom, human rights and democracy in our country.
In his honour we commit ourselves to continue building a nation based on the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.
United in our diversity, we will continue working to build a nation free of poverty, hunger, homelessness and inequality.
As the African continent led by the African Union, we will continue working to fulfil his desire for a better Africa and a more just, peaceful and equitable world.
Tomorrow, our people will accompany Madiba on his last journey to the seat of government, the Union buildings in Pretoria, where his body will lie in state for three days.
I have the honour today, to announce, that the Union buildings amphitheatre, where Madiba was inaugurated as president in 1994, and where his body will lie in state, will, with effect from today, be called the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre.
This is a fitting tribute to a man who transformed the Union Buildings from a symbol of racism and repression to one of peace, unity, democracy and progress.
Compatriots, comrades and friends,
We extend yet again, our deepest condolences to mama Graca Machel, mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and the entire extended family.
Madiba has run a good race. He declared in his own words in 1994;
"Death is something inevitable.
"When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.
"I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for eternity."
I thank you."
Crowds march during a memorial for former ANC leader and President Nelson Mandela., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Crowd takes the lead at Mandela memorial
Barack Obama spoke movingly. Ban Ki-moon paid tribute. But the crowd drew most of the attention at Nelson Mandela's massive state memorial service.
10 Dec 2013 16:02 Phillip De Wet
The part of the crowd that clustered close to the pitch under many umbrellas (instruments originally banned from the FNB Stadium, but that policy was reversed in the face of cold, penetrating rain on Tuesday morning), were perhaps too busy trying to peer over one another's rain protection.
The middle section of the stadium, a ring between the good views and the nose-bleeder seats, kept to their chairs; the sections were a little small for a critical mass of the opinionated and loud to build up.
But at the top of FNB Stadium, trouble brewed. It was unexpected, but evident the second President Jacob Zuma's image was first flashed onto screens inside the stadium as he arrived. A small but loud section of the crowd booed, and made the soccer substitution signal – the very same signal that heralded Zuma's victory over Thabo Mbeki in Polokwane.
This, it seemed suddenly, was going to be a political event mediated through the two big screens at either end of the stadium.
And so it was.
The internal cameras found a boisterous group of Economic Freedom Fighters, in their trademark red. They redoubled their volume, while opposite them ANC supporters booed them just as loudly.
Former president Thabo Mbeki got a rapturous welcome, while FW de Klerk was politely applauded. Zuma drew more boos, not least of all when he stood up to make his keynote address. Barack Obama nearly brought the house down, and even Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe proved pretty popular.
Meanwhile, around the world, foreign audiences were asking the perhaps obvious question: is this because Zuma is being compared to Nelson Mandela, and doesn't measure up? Explaining the internal politics of the ANC, the nature of the disaffection of Gauteng ANC supporters with the outcome of the Mangaung conference, was a little too complex in the moment, so often they were simply told: yes, not everyone likes Zuma.
Which only confused them all the more when Zuma was politely allowed to finish his address, and even got a decent round of cheering at the end.
It was not joint programme manager Cyril Ramaphosa's reprimands from the stage that achieved that turnaround, however. Several ANC officials, including national leaders, were quickly dispatched to the far reaches of the stadium to preach peace and tolerance, or at the very least silence in the name of respect for Mandela.
Whether the many foreign dignitaries had a sense that the crowd, as representing the people of South Africa, respected Mandela, is not clear. Many were left confused as their speeches had to compete with the sound of boisterous singing. Others looked around a stadium that never filled much past the two-thirds mark, clearly concerned at what the absence may signify.
The singing, of course, is simply how South Africans celebrate a life well lived – especially when stuck in a stadium for too many hours, in the cold rain, and especially when subjected to stadium-quality sound that made nonsense of most speeches, even those not boring to begin with.
The unexpectedly empty stadium, on the other hand, seemed to be caused by a combination of transportation trouble, incorrect information, and the simple fact that economic factors – not least of all the need to be at work – came into play.
But the sentiment of the day was not expressed in the eloquent words from many worthies, or the number of people who kept their seats for more than eight hours to provide a respectable backdrop. It was seen in the first chorus of Shosholoza on a train platform at 5.15am, and in the cries of "Viva Madiba, viva!" as people drifted from the stadium later in the afternoon.
For all the action and excitement, more than 50 000 people started the day eager to celebrate Mandela's life, and they left feeling they had done so.
Nelson Mandela among the Algerian Revolutionaries during 1962 when he traveled there to study guerrilla warfare., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
ON zIZEK's NASTY BULLSHIT ON MANDELA
'this is the size of my colonial white brain'
White colonial posture from zizek on Mandela
By Carlos Martinez
Typical posturing coffee-shop-radical claptrap from Zizek. How wonderful to be a well-paid, well-respected European critical theorist and have the luxury of saying that all oppressed peoples' attempts to create a new world - be it in South Africa, Cuba, Zimbabwe, China, Korea, the former Soviet Union, etc - have been worse than useless. How great to be able to totally ignore all objective factors (little things like, errr, IMPERIALISM, the collapse of the USSR, total US geopolitical dominance of the early 1990s, the global rise of neoliberalism, massive droughts, etc) and focus entirely on the subjective factor, ie "how to move further from Mandela without becoming Mugabe".
He tells us that life is just as bad for black South Africans now as it was under apartheid. Clearly he is not one of those dogmatic people who measures quality of life in terms of food security, housing, or the availability of clean running water, electricity and educational opportunities - all of which are MUCH better now for South Africans (not to say they are perfect, they obviously aren't).
He says that "the rise of political and civil rights is counterbalanced by the growing insecurity, violence and crime". This is a fundamentally racist point. Before 1994, whites had all the political and civil rights, and only blacks suffered from the extreme levels of insecurity, violence and crime. Now everybody has the political and civil rights, and whites have lost their automatic protection from violence and crime (well, it's been a violent society ever since the whites turned up!).
"If we merely abolish the market (inclusive of market exploitation) without replacing it with a proper form of the communist organisation of production and exchange, domination returns with a vengeance, and with it direct exploitation." Great. And while we're at it, how about we build a lovely utopia up in the clouds where the sun is always shining, people dance salsa day and night, and a bowl of marshmallows constitutes a nutritious meal? Socialism is born from capitalism, and it inherits many defects. Overcoming these and moving towards a sane, equal, prosperous society is the work of many generations. Furthermore, socialism is unable to develop freely in the era of imperialism, hence the number one priority being to end (or at least marginalise) imperialism. Tellingly, there's not a single mention of imperialism in Zizek's article.
And the parting shot: "We can safely surmise that, on account of his doubtless moral and political greatness, he was at the end of his life also a bitter old man, well aware how his very political triumph and his elevation into a universal hero was the mask of a bitter defeat. Mandela's universal glory is also a sign that he really didn't disturb the global order of power." Yeah... because imperialism was totally happy for apartheid to die, yes?
The ruling classes of Britain, France, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Spain and the US were more than happy for African countries to get their liberation, and that's why they organised endless 'civil' wars, interventions and campaigns of destabilisation?
The fact is that there is *still* an international campaign of destabilisation against South Africa. SA's main trading partner is China; it is the only African member of BRICS; it's a significant military force; it has excellent state relations with Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia, Zambia (unlike in the apartheid days when it was occupying or waging war on those countries); it retains close ties with evil-communist-dictatorship Cuba. There are very few things the US and European ruling classes would like more than to see the 'Democratic Alliance' apartheid-nostalgia-brigade come to power in South Africa, and the barrage of 'left'-sounding critiques of Mandela being printed in the mainstream press is in support of that aim.
So the 'strategy' of this wonderful Marxist philosopher Zizek is to unite with the right against the not-quite-left-enough. Thanks but no thanks.
African National Congress (ANC) leader and former South African President Nelson Mandela in Algeria wearing a khafiya after his release from prison in May 1990., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Dec 10 2013 8:23AM
New Age, South Africa
The man who boxed apartheid
As a world renowned freedom fighter Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was involved in a lengthy battle against apartheid. But as an amateur boxer Mandela fought for one simple reason – to escape the harsh realities of the struggle days.
“I found the rigorous exercise to be an excellent outlet for tension and stress. After a strenuous workout I felt both mentally and physically lighter. It was a way of losing myself in something that was not the struggle. After an evening’s workout I would wake up the next morning feeling strong and refreshed, ready to take up the fight again,” Mandela wrote in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.
Mandela furthered his interest in boxing as a 19-year-old student at Healdtown, a Westleyan college in Fort Beaufort which most Tembu royalty attended. “I did not enjoy the violence of boxing so much as the science of it,” wrote the former amateur heavyweight.Even after making the trek from the Eastern Cape to the city of gold, Mandela pursued his interest in the sport of fisticuffs. In the ’50s he trained at a gym in Orlando, Soweto. One of his most famous boxing pictures depicts Mandela on the roof of a Jozi building during training.
Not even the 27 years that Mandela spent on Robben Island deterred him from resorting to his outlet for stress relief. While behind bars the political prisoner “maintained a physical fitness regimen” until he was released in 1990.
But the rigorous demands of his politics life gradually limited Mandela’s participation in the sport.“I never did any real fighting after I entered politics,” he said in an interview.
But it was probably not entirely politics that prevented Mandela from throwing punches in the paid ranks. As he was to later reveal in an interview with CNN, the former state president harboured no ambitions of upgrading his status as an amateur pugilist.“No, I did not want to be a professional, but (an) amateur,” he said.
He added: “And, of course, our heroes in those days were Joe Louis and people like Joe Walcott. These were our heroes. Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier – those are legends and they are people who also are political because every time I came to the United States of America they gave me a lot of support.“People like Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard were all very good to us.”
Mandela had been an icon and beacon of inspiration for boxers across the seven seas. These include Ali’s daughter, Laila, who met Madiba when she became the first female fighter to headline a boxing card in South Africa five years ago.“He reminds me so much of my own father. He is like family. He is a very humble man,” she said at the time.
Another fighter who derived inspiration from Mandela was Baby Jake Matlala, (who died on Saturday, two days after Madiba).Mandela watched him when he brought the curtain down on his 22-year professional career in March 2002.
After his seventh-round stoppage victory over Juan Herrera, Matlala presented his WBU belt to Mandela.“It was such an honour to have him at ringside. He is a true champion because he knocked out apartheid. For me to have been a champion was because of his sacrifices. My wife and I decided there and then that I present him with my WBU belt. He was so very touched because he didn’t expect it,” Matlala told SportsAge.One of the country’s greatest retired fighters, Dingaan Thobela, met Mandela only a year after his release.
Having been invited to Thobela’s fight against Antonio Rivera, Mandela could not make it due to other commitments but still sneaked into the Protea Gardens Hotel, where the fighter was staying.“It was a special moment for me. After all the hype and what we had heard about him fighting for the country, fighting for freedom, I was very excited,” wrote Thobela in his book, Rose of Soweto.
Former IBF junior featherweight champion Lehlohonolo Ledwaba said Mandela was the wind beneath boxers’ wings.“Mandela played a big role in the lives of South Africans as a politician and an even bigger role in boxers’ lives as a sportsman. Being someone who is respected and recognised, he became proof that a person can make it in life no matter what fight he is up against.”
Mandela the boxer was described by writer Matt Hamilton as giving new meaning to “People’s Champion”.“And maybe, just maybe, he ranks among the most notable boxers of all-time if only for the manner in which he was able to harness and utilise the positive physical and psychological impact the sport had on him for the betterment of his society and the fight against racist tyranny everywhere.”
Republic of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe with First Lady Grace Amai Mugabe at Harare International Airport heading to South Africa for the memorial service for former President Nelson Mandela., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
President in SA for Mandela’s memorial service
December 10, 2013
From Mabasa Sasa in JOHANNESBURG, South Africa
PRESIDENT Mugabe will today join over 90 current and former heads of state and government from around the world for the memorial service of former South African president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela at the giant Soccer City Stadium here. Mr Mandela succumbed to a lung infection on December 5, aged 95.
He was incarcerated for 27 years by the apartheid regime before leading the ANC — Africa’s oldest liberation movement — to victory in elections in 1994 that ended half a century of apartheid and more than 300 years of racist colonial rule.
President Mugabe, who is accompanied by the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe and their children Ms Bona and Chatunga, arrived here last night and was welcomed at Waterkloof Airbase by Ambassador to South Africa Cde Phelekezela Mphoko and embassy staff.
The President has described Mr Mandela as a champion of the oppressed.
Mr Mandela will be buried on December 15 at his ancestral village of Qunu in Eastern Cape Province.
From December 11 to 13, Mr Mandela’s remains will lie in state at Union Buildings in Tshwane as part of the week of national mourning.
President Zuma was quoted by Sapa saying, “We should all work together to organise the most fitting funeral for this outstanding son of our country and the father of our young nation.”
Yesterday, South Africa’s Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane told Xinhua,
“The fact that international leaders are making their way to South Africa at such short notice reflects the special place president Nelson Mandela holds in the hearts of people around the globe.
“We are touched by the fact that many countries have declared periods of mourning, ordered that flags be flown at half-mast and draped or lit landmarks in the colours of the South African flag. We truly appreciate these gestures.”
Last week, President Mugabe wrote to President Zuma expressing Zimbabwe’s shared grief in the loss of a fighter for justice.
“Mr Nelson Mandela’s renowned and illustrious political life will forever remain a beacon of excellence. Not only was he a great champion of the emancipation of the oppressed, but he also was a humble and compassionate leader who showed selfless dedication to the service of his people.
“We join the rest of the nation in mourning his departure. The late Nelson Mandela will forever remain in our minds as an unflinching fighter for justice,” President Mugabe said, adding: “Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.”
Born on July 18, 1918 in Umtata in Transkei, Mr Mandela was to overcome his humble beginnings to challenge apartheid and was among the first to advocate armed resistance in 1960, after having already been instrumental in the formation of the influential ANC Youth League.
The apartheid regime detained Mr Mandela for 27 years but he emerged to become President of South Africa in landmark all-race elections in 1994 before retiring in 1999.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, an honour he shared with Frederick W de Klerk, the last white Afrikaner leader of South Africa.
As President, Mandela faced the weighty task of laying the foundations for a new nation haunted by deep racial injustices, and economic and social injustices, many of which persist up to today.
He was to be succeeded as President by Thabo Mbeki and made his last major public appearance in 2010 at the FIFA Soccer World Cup — the first time the show-piece was staged on African soil.
Zimbabwe and South Africa’s ties run long and deep, with liberation movements from the two countries collaborating to fight the oppressive Western-backed regimes in their two countries. Those racist regimes largely worked hand-in-glove to ensure indigenous peoples remained second class citizens.
Zimbabwe, after gaining independence in 1980, hosted South African liberation fighters and nationalists and provided support for their struggle against Apartheid.
So close were the two countries that, as revealed by former President Mbeki, Zimbabwe delayed its land reform revolution so as to give liberation fighters in South Africa time to first deal with apartheid before confronting colonially privileged white former farmers back home.
It was felt at the time that should Zimbabwe initiate widespread land reforms, the ensuing backlash from white farmers and governments in Europe and North America would work against efforts to end white supremacist rule in South Africa.
Bilateral relations between South Africa and Zimbabwe improved substantially as apartheid officially ended.
President Mugabe formally met Mr Mandela for the first time on January 27, 1994 along with Botswana’s then President, Sir Ketumile Masire to find a peaceful resolution to a military mutiny in Lesotho.
Mr Mandela visited Harare in early 1995 and the two countries discussed trade issues and means of dismantling apartheid-era tariffs.
In November 1995, a ceremony attended by President Mugabe and Mr Mandela marked the opening of a new bridge linking the two countries, across the Limpopo River.
Since then, trade between Zimbabwe and South Africa boomed, as have cultural exchanges. In the past decade, the trade – both formal and informal – has seen Zimbabwe’s cash economy pumping millions of US dollars into South Africa, and in the country in return accessing goods and services.
Mr Mandela’s successor, former president Mbeki, played a pivotal role in resolution of the political stand-off between Zimbabwe’s main political parties.
The fruit of Mr Mbeki’s efforts, the inclusive Government, paved the way for a key election on July 31, 2013 that saw President Mugabe romping to victory in a poll that South Africa joined many other observers in endorsing.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela at a large Soweto shopping mall that opened on September 27, 2007., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
World leaders gather for Mandela funeral
December 10, 2013
JOHANNESBURG. — South Africa struggled yesterday to meet the unprecedented logistical challenge of hosting close to 100 world leaders flying in from every corner of the globe for the state funeral of former president Nelson Mandela.“The world literally is coming to South Africa,” said the government’s head of public diplomacy, Clayson Monyela.
“I don’t think it has ever happened before,” Monyela said of the wave of 91 leaders, including US President Barack Obama, bearing down on the country.
Many will join the 80,000 people expected to cram today into the FNB stadium in Soweto for a tribute to South Africa’s first black president.
The memorial service, in the venue where Mandela made his last major public appearance for the 2010 World Cup final, is seen as a final chance for grieving South Africans to unite in a mass celebration of his life ahead of the more formal state funeral.
Although Mandela had been critically ill for months, the announcement of his death on Thursday night still rocked a country that had looked to his unassailable moral authority as a comforting constant in a time of uncertain social and economic change.
“I don’t think you are ever prepared enough,” said Zelda la Grange, who was Mandela’s long-time personal assistant both during and after his presidency.
“We had prepared ourselves emotionally but still we are overcome by this feeling of loss and sadness,” La Grange said.
A single candle was lit in Mandela’s tiny prison cell on Robben Island, where he spent the harshest of his 27 years in apartheid jails, before emerging to lead his country into a multi-racial democracy.
The week-long funeral rites will culminate Sunday in Mandela’s burial at a family plot in his boyhood home of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
The government has sought to dissuade A-list dignitaries from attending, citing Qunu’s rural location, the lack of amenities and limited space.
Prior to the burial, Mandela’s body will lie in state for three days from tomorrow in the amphitheatre of the Union Buildings in Pretoria where he was sworn in as president in 1994.
Each morning, his coffin will be carried through the streets of the capital in a funeral cortège, to give as many people as possible the chance to pay their final respects.
Around 11,000 troops have been mobilised to ensure security and help with crowd control efforts during the week-long series of funeral events.
Despite the sudden influx of international dignitaries and the compressed preparation time, National Police spokesman Solomon Makgale insisted that the security apparatus could cope.
“Having so many heads of state is not a security headache for us. We’ve learned over the years,” Makgale said, adding that they would be “working closely” with the foreign leaders’ own security details.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who was among the first to arrive, visited the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg where he paid tribute to a leader whose life touched millions.
Parliament met in special session yesterday, with MPs carrying single red roses as they entered the assembly building that was flanked by giant portraits of Mandela in tribal dress and as an elder statesman.
Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and grandson Mandla are both ruling African National Congress (ANC) members of parliament, but neither participated in the session.
Former president FW de Klerk, who shared the 1993 Nobel peace Prize with Mandela, was invited but did not attend. Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the day the two men received the prize in Oslo.Cuban state media said President Raul Castro would attend the state funeral, but not his older brother Fidel – a long time friend of Mandela’s.
Notable absentees include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who cited high travel and security costs, and Mandela’s fellow Nobel peace laureate, the Dalai Lama, who since 2009 has twice been denied a visa for South Africa.
PORT ELIZABETH. — South African traditional leaders are calling on the government to allow adequate space for customary burial rites when Nelson Mandela is finally laid to rest Sunday.
“On Sunday next week, when we put him in his grave, all the rituals will be conducted by the Royal House,” Xhosa traditional leader Nokuzola Mndende told AFP.
“It will be a traditional ritual and the government should take a back seat and not interfere,” she added. Mandela was born into the Thembu royal family, the leaders of a Xhosa-speaking people. “An ox will be slaughtered to accompany him. It is only the Mandela clan which will conduct the rituals on burial day to prepare him for a safe journey.”
“All the taking at the grave will be done by the Mandela clan elders,” Mndende explained.
“If government intervenes, the ancestors will not accept and welcome him, and this will have a detrimental effect on the family members left behind as his spirit will come back to haunt them.”
Mandela is due to be buried at his childhood home of Qunu on Sunday, part of a week-long celebration of his life.
In contrast to a stadium memorial in Soweto and a laying in state in Pretoria, Mandela’s hometown burial will be more traditional, a mixture of Christian and traditional Xhosa rites.
Former African National Congress and Republic of South Africa President Nelson Mandela campaigns at the 100,000-strong rally held at Ellis Stadium in Johannesburg for the ANC on April 19, 2009., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Mandela ‘breathed life into SA economy’
December 10, 2013
Johannesburg. — Nelson Mandela brought not only the gift of political freedom to South Africans, but also a huge gift to South Africa’s business community. While South Africans and the rest of the world were caught up in the euphoria of witnessing Mandela’s first steps of freedom, the stark reality was that he inherited a country in deep economic trouble.
Reserve Bank figures show the country, as the world’s leading gold producer at the time, had depleted official gold and foreign exchange reserves with substantial foreign liabilities by the time the apartheid regime ended.
The successful global disinvestment campaign during the 1980s dealt a severe blow to the apartheid regime.
During United Nations hearings in Geneva in September 1989, the International Chamber of Commerce reported that more than 550 firms had disinvested from South Africa since 1985.
Besides this huge capital flight, South Africa’s internal economy was in shambles, with high inflation, huge military spending to quell internal unrest and continued fighting in frontline states, coupled with slow consumer spending leading to an overall annual growth rate that slipped to less than 1 percent.
Despite being branded a communist by the apartheid propaganda machine, Mandela showed a profound understanding of the importance of foreign direct investment, even before he was sworn in as South Africa’s first democratically elected president.
Shortly after his release, Mandela undertook a successful world tour. His main aim was to rally business, both locally and globally, to support the rebuilding of the country he was to lead.
He did this to lift millions of people out of extreme poverty and to save the country’s economic system from spiralling out of control.
His acute understanding of this requirement, which, if left unsatisfied, would scuttle the efforts of a newly elected government, is evident in his pleas to overseas governments and his understanding that South Africa depended on foreign capital and technology for its growth.
In his historic first address to the UN on September 24, 1993, Mandela not only asked for an end to the huge sanctions effort that helped to bring apartheid to an abrupt end, he used the opportunity in the global spotlight to call for investment.
“We hope that both the South African and the international investor communities will also take this opportunity themselves to help regenerate the South African economy, to their mutual benefit.”
The very next day, the International Monetary Fund responded with a pledge of US$850 million in economic aid.
But, under the great leadership of former president Mandela, how successful was the new South Africa in attracting foreign capital back to the golden shores of a black majority-ruled country?
The then governor of the Reserve Bank, Chris Stals, was astounded: “Over the 18 months from July 1994 to December 1995, a net amount of more than R30 billion flowed into the country from the rest of the world.
This exceeded even the most optimistic expectations at the time of the election of the government of national unity in April 1994.”
The activity on the JSE confirmed this. In 1992, the total value of shares traded amounted to R22 billion, but then increased to R63 billion in 1995.
The increase in the turnover in the bond market was even more spectacular, having risen from R496 billion in 1992 to R2,006 billion in 1995.
Capital outflows of R15 billion suddenly switched to net inflows of nearly R30 billion as from April 1994.
This led to a growth rate of 3,5 percent in 1995, “the best South Africa experienced since 1988”, said Stals.
Hundreds of global companies returned to South Africa, bringing billions in investment — with total investment of R12 billion in the first half of 1997 alone. Instrumental to the return of these billions of dollars in foreign direct investment, financial flows, increases in foreign reserves — to say nothing of the latest technology and international trade — was Mandela.
Through his consistent and impassioned plea for the international community to “produce that magical elixir” of the marketplace, and “by achieving success not only in politics but also in the social-economic sphere”, Mandela ensured the hype around South Africa’s transition to democracy and his personal sacrifice, as the leader embodying the collective sacrifice of thousands of black South Africans, was honoured in material terms by his hard-hitting invitation to the international business community to invest in this country for the benefit of all.
Zanu-PF delegation to the ANC Policy Conference, Professor Jonathan Moyo, ANC National Executive Committee member Winnie Madikizela Mandela and Senator Monica Mutsvangwa pose for a photograph on the sidelines of the conference ending June 29, 2012., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Minister Moyo raps Mandela comparisons
December 10, 2013
Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
INFORMATION, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo has dismissed frivolous attempts by the Western media to compare African leaders with the former South African president Nelson Mandela who died last Thursday.Following the death of president Mandela, Western newspapers are making unremitting averments to the effect that African leaders should seek to emulate his legacy.
Prof Moyo said while president Mandela was a revered African leader with a rich history, God created one Mandela who does not warrant to have a clone.
“It is kind of disappointing that Nelson Mandela’s passing on has attracted gratuitous comparisons between him and other African leaders including our own President Mugabe whose iconic standing as a liberator and empowerer is now an indelible imprint of history,” he said.
“While the subtext of the gratuitous comparisons has been that other African leaders such as President Mugabe should emulate Mandela, the more important and rather self-evident fact that cannot therefore be masked by the shrill comparisons is that God created only one Nelson Mandela with no clones in the same way he created only one Winston Churchill; one John F Kennedy, one Mao, one Lenin and one Mahatma Gandhi with no clones.
“The notion being peddled in some propaganda quarters that some African leaders should style themselves as Mandela clones has no precedence in the history of civilised nations.
“In the same way that Britain has not had another Churchill and America has not had another Kennedy, Africa will not have another Mandela and this means that the gratuitous comparisons of Mandela and other African leaders are ultimately a waste of time.”
Prof Moyo said such comparison was not only an insult to president Mandela’s rich legacy but ridiculed the entire African continent which endured untold exploitation at the hands of the Anglo Saxons.
“The comparisons whose import is predictable and whose purpose is self-serving are not only a disservice to Mandela’s monumental achievements and the legacy thereof but they are also an insult to the struggle for the political liberation and economic empowerment of Africans across the Continent against the background of the dehumanising brutality of slavery, imperialism, colonialism and neocolonialism perpetrated against Africans by successive Anglo-Saxon regimes,” he said.
Shockingly, Prof Moyo said, president Mandela whom the Anglo Saxons pretended to love so much today, was the same Mandela whom they branded a terrorist during the Apartheid era and jailed for 27 years.
Mandela was only removed from the US terrorist watch list in 2008, ahead of his 90th birthday, and only a few weeks back ANC national executive committee member Tokyo Sexwale was detained at JFK International Airport for being on the US sanctions list.
Prof Moyo said although Mandela’s death had plunged the whole African continent into mourning, his legacy would continue to be cherished.
“Even though Mandela is no more, and while his passing on has naturally enveloped our entire African continent with sadness, there’s also a clear and present spirit and disposition to celebrate his legendary life and achievements which were as tall as his stature as an icon of African liberation whose legacy of forgiveness and reconciliation will forever enlighten generations of Africans into posterity,” he said.
“The Mandela that Africans know and profoundly admire is the Mandela of the struggle who was seen and treated as a terrorist by the very same institutional peddlers of Anglo-Saxon propaganda who are championing the same Mandela they said was a terrorist yesterday as a beacon of human rights and decency today, as they make gratuitous comparisons of Mandela and other African leaders who are still holding on to the ideals that Mandela cherished and preached before his incarceration which saw him languish in jail for 27 years of brutality and inhumanity.”
Mandela, South Africa’s first black president will be buried next Saturday in his home village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
Members of the Independent Statehood for African Americans in Sacremento, California. They want to win land and self-government for African people in the United States., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Group Seeks Independent Statehood For African Americans
December 6, 2013 by Antonio Harvey
SACRAMENTO — There is a national petition floating about that is asking Black Americans, whose parents or grandparents were descendants from slavery, to establish a separate state or territory of their own.
The organizers who are pushing the movement say it not about hate, disdain or rebellion. But the formal request is to help African Americans move pass ills that have plagued them since before, during, and after slavery.
For decades there has been various groups seeking reparations from slavery through legislation or litigations with little success.
But the Independent Statehood For African Americans is asking that land on U.S. soil or elsewhere be set aside.
“There comes a time when we should say, ‘we gotta do something for ourselves and for our people,’” said Devon Muhammad, who is leading the I.S.A.A. movement here in Sacramento.
“We are a nation within a nation. We are, I believe, No. 33 as far as economics, in the world, as a people. That means we almost out-do another 60 nations. So why is it not in our best interests to have some land and territory.”
Muhammad told the OBSERVER that he is trying to get people in the Sacramento region, the country, and around the world to sign the petition. Signing the petition is not just exclusive for African Americans, Muhammad said.
“This is a movement and we want the support of all people that are fair, just, and think clear of what has happened to our people and grandparents,” he said.
It’s up for discussion, but I.S.A.A is in quest of asking the U.S. government to obligate, “maintain and supply,” the “separate territory for the next 20 to 25 years” until the independents of the territory could flourish on their own.”
The idea of statehood, Muhammad says, comes from Elijah Muhammad’s book “Message to the Black Man.” Contributions to the U.S. and the sufferings African Americans have experienced as slaves and beyond the institution of slavery justifies separation, says Muhammad, the late leader of the Nation of Islam.
I.S.A.A’s benchmark at the moment is to sign up 1,900 people, immediately, over the age of 18. Muhammad and his mother, Debra “Sanau” Ms. Barnes, have been using a word-of-mouth strategy and a website to garner support for the effort.
“I want to stress the fact that (seeking petitioners) is not entertainment,” Ms. Barnes said.
“So we don’t necessarily have to have events. This day and age we have to go with social media because it’s accessible. When we campaign and petition we are serious about what we are doing. This promotion is ongoing. We want everyone to get information and gain knowledge in signing the petition,” she added.
“Statehood would be a way of correcting some of the vices and economic situations African Americans are faced with today,” said Muhammad.
“Incarceration, poverty, unemployment, under-employment, drug addiction and lack of a quality education continue to hold back the Black community,” he added.
Ms. Barnes and Muhammad did recite the fact that when the government issued Executive Order 9066, (which placed people of Japanese descent into internment camps during World War II,) it later apologized for the inhumane act.
An appropriations bill was later authorized in the early 1990s to repay surviving members of the internees along with a letter of apology to Japanese Americans.
About $20,000 in redress payments were later given to each survivor. African Americans have been waiting for more than 150 years to receiving something similar to Japanese Americans, Ms. Barnes and Muhammad stated.
“We are starting with a petition,” Ms. Barnes said. “But we are hoping that we have a caucus to iron everything out of how it’s gonna be, how it should be, and how (statehood) benefits us.”
For more information about Independent Statehood For African Americans and the petition, visit www.ourexodus.info.
By Antonio Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer
Former Republic of South Africa President Nelson Mandela shown after receiving a R3-million donation to his foundation on June 18, 2008., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
In Cape Town, leaders pay tribute to Mandela
Rebecca L. Weber, Special to USA TODAY 5:13 p.m. EST December 9, 2013
A day of tribute for Mandela in the legislative capital of South Africa
CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Some remembered his kindnesses; others reminisced about his charity.
And at a special session of Parliament today, dedicated to paying tribute to the country's first democratically elected president, all praised Nelson Mandela for his sacrifice, wisdom and humility.
"In a modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint," said Kgalema Motlanthe, South Africa's deputy president. He said that it's important that the Mandela experience does not "fizzle out," but "rather become the turning point for social change."
Public capacity was reached before the ceremonies began. In one overflow room, people danced and sang songs from the struggle against apartheid.
Many wore somber Western-style suits or formal African dress. Yellow T-shirts from the African National Congress (ANC), Mandela's party, were also popular.
A large number of women covered their heads with hats or scarves, representing traditions for both married Xhosa women and Western mourning customs.
"The icon of the world has gone to join his ancestors," said Thandi Modise, premier of the North West Province, which was met with wide applause.
Numerous prominent Americans, including Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King Jr., and Coretta Scott King were quoted by the leaders of South Africa's government.
In addition to the large number of regular citizens in attendance, numerous children were present.
"I came to pay my last respects for a remarkable leader — the greatest leader ever," said Virginia Engel, who used to be Mandela's private secretary and once traveled with him to Washington, D.C. "I'm rededicating myself to Madiba's ideals."
Engel said that her most special personal memory of Mandela is of the time she was sick and had to be hospitalized.
"He took the time out of his busy schedule — and I knew more than many others how busy that schedule was — to come and visit me in (the) hospital."
Engel was accompanied by her 7-year-old grandson. "I brought my grandson today to share in the history. He's too young to understand. But one day, when you're much bigger and learn about Madiba at school — I'm sure long after we have passed, they will learn about Madiba at school — you will understand why I brought you here today."
Khilona Radia-Dheda, a business consultant who lives in Cape Town, came with her mother, Sushila N. Radia, and her three young children. Radia-Dheda said she first learned about apartheid during a family outing to Zoo Lake in Johannesburg. "I desperately needed to go to the toilet. It was filthy. So I walked around and went to the clean toilet. My mother came and she pulled me out and she said, 'You're not allowed to go in there. That's only for whites.'"
Radia and her husband had a textile shop in Johannesburg that sold traditional shweshwe fabric from the Eastern Cape, until the Group Areas Act came into being. They found their shop padlocked, with a notice that they had one week to remove all their goods.
"The customer base was African. They did not want them in the area, and they did not want an Indian trader in the area either," said Radia-Dheda. "The next week, they threw all the reams of material out on the ground."
She said she brought her kids to honor Mandela and to "celebrate the values and struggle and appreciate what they're growing up with. The values that they must live with, that's very important."
Sandra Jansen, a teacher, said that she uses Nelson Mandela as part of the curriculum with her second-grade students. Today she visited Parliament with her three grandchildren.
"I know the apartheid years. I've grown up in those years. Whites-only signs: can't go in there. When he became free, we all became free."
Jansen said she hopes to learn to be as forgiving as Mandela was. "I just recently saw the new movie where he once again told us, if he can forgive, so can we. That is my greatest lesson."
An outdoor wall of remembrance where visitors left graffiti-style messages, will be up and open to the public for the rest of the week.
African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela with Stevie Wonder and former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young at Tiger Stadium in June 1990. Mandela spoke to 50,000 people in Detroit., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Wickham: Mandela's unbreakable link with black America
DeWayne Wickham, USATODAY 7:04 p.m. EST December 9, 2013
While he sought justice in his own country, he also wanted it for African Americans.
When the icon was release from South African prison, he made his first visit to the USA.
At first, I thought his rhetorical flourishes were just the words of the common politician.
But I soon learned that his wish for racial equality had no boundaries.
When Nelson Mandela arrived in New York City four months after his 1990 release from detention after 27 years in a South African prison, he was widely – and wrongly – seen as just the leader of an African struggle for self-determination. But as I quickly learned, he was much more than that.
During a Yankee Stadium speech that I witnessed as a member of a small group of journalists invited to cover his 12-day, eight-city U.S. visit, the then-71-year-old Mandela claimed a special connection to the large black crowds that would turn out for him wherever he went. There is an "unbreakable umbilical cord" that connected African Americans and blacks in South Africa, he said that day.
At the time, his words sounded to me more like the kind of rhetorical flourish a visiting politician utters to win over a foreign audience than a sincere expression of kinship. It was, I thought, just some comforting words for his audience. Like the "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech President Kennedy gave in Berlin in 1963, or the 1987 speech President Reagan gave in that city urging Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down" the wall that symbolized the Cold War division between East and West.
But by the time Mandela ended his first U.S. visit in Oakland, Calif., at the end of June 1990, I understood that he was no fawning, globe-hopping politician.
When the plane that brought him to the U.S. arrived nearly two hours late, he kept New York City Mayor David Dinkins and a host of other muckety-mucks waiting at City Hall while he honored a commitment to visit Boys and Girls High School, a mostly black public school in the Brooklyn section of the Big Apple. His audience there was made up of mostly children and held little promise of much media attention.
A few days later, during our plane ride to Detroit, Mandela asked a flight attendant for the words to Marvin Gaye's song What's Going On. That night he began his speech to a mostly black crowd of 49,000 people with the opening words to Gaye's anti-violence anthem:
There's too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There's far too many of you dying"
Mandela wasn't talking about the ongoing violence in South Africa between supporters and opponents of apartheid, the pigmentocracy that country's white minority created to dominate the black majority. While he was committed to dismantling that morally corrupt system, Mandela was appealing that night for an end to the violence that wracked the Motor City.
As much as he wanted Americans to rally in support of his African National Congress' efforts to put the last nail in the coffin of South Africa's apartheid state, Mandela repeatedly found time during his first U.S. visit – especially in private conversations with me and other journalists – to agitate for a better life for blacks in this country.
His persistence in doing that in every city he visited moved me to acknowledge Mandela's American connection in a column I wrote July 2, 1990, after his speech to 78,000 people in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum:
"With rare exceptions, most African Americans have found their heroes closer to home – people such as Frederick Douglass, Mary McLeod Bethune, Malcolm X and (Martin Luther) King. Not since Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican immigrant, began rallying blacks to his Universal Negro Improvement Association in 1916 have so many African Americans linked their lives so closely to someone from abroad."
History, no doubt, will remember Nelson Mandela as the father of South Africa's majority-rule, democracy. But I'll remember him, first and foremost, as the towering figure of the unbreakable umbilical cord that connects blacks from Harlem to Johannesburg.
DeWayne Wickham writes on Tuesdays for USA TODAY.