FNB stadium in Soweto was packed on Tuesday Morning as the world united to bid farewell to South Africa’s first black and democratic president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. If you do not know who utata is where have you been hiding in the past week and so when the public broadcaster and multiple international channels have been commemorating the Icon?
We as mourners say death has no shame. As much as we know that he was suffering from a recurring lung infection but parting ways with him was not part of the plan. We felt it was too soon yes 95 years was too soon.
The slippery weather to some was a threat not to be there but others saw it as a blessing that the proceedings will go accordingly. The 95 000 capacity stadium had flowers surrounding the field, one would swear that this was not the place that occasionally plays host to teams like Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
Mentioning every single soul that was there would take the whole day so let me say most highly rated people made an appearance. With various people entering the venue I have to say SA’s President Jacob Zuma’s entry has to be the one I was least happy about. A small group seated to my right were booing him. I admit not everyone is a fan of ubab’Zuma but what so happened to respecting the first citizen of the country especially in front of delegates of note such as those who were attending the event.
It was scheduled to begin at 11am but African time never seizes to amaze us. It started an hour late. The ceremony was led by National Chairperson of the ANC Baleka Mbete and ANC Deputy Chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa.
The service was begun in true African spirit with the singing of the National anthem, followed by the first speaker of the memorial service a family friend Andrew Mlangeni. He spoke of utata as a person who touched lives and who will continue to do so even in his passing. “He is looking down at us and the is no doubt he is smiling”, said Mlangeni.
As I have mentioned above a lot of people spoke thus I can not relive each occasion but I trust certain TV & radio stations, live blogs kept most of you updated on the proceedings. Apart from the emotional speeches there was rather a funny moment during Kirk Franklins performance; the energetic Kirk jumped off the artists’ stage to the field, as it was raining some umbrella guy followed him. I understand that was part of his job but eventually he couldn’t keep up with Kirks energy and had no choice but to tap out LOL poor soul.
USA president Barack Obama took to the podium for his turn to address the masses attending and watching from home, it was a touching speech indeed. He was reading from his i-pad but the way he kept it personal you’d swear he was speaking from the heart. He is a good public commentator, he mentioned that Mandela’s capturing gift was that of Ubuntu.
A moment of history was when Obama exchanged pleasantries with the Cuban president Raul Castro, this made twitter a buzz. I’m sure utata must have loved this as he dedicated his life to building unity and peace. Your Excellency Jacob Zuma took to the stage and highlighted that this day marks the 20th anniversary of utata being awarded the Nobel peace prize. Every speaker had quoted utata so it felt like an omnibus of the speeches. All I heard was “and I quote….unquote” or perhaps it’s because I was cold and tired.
Next stop is the Union Buildings where the body of Tata will lie in state for three days. He will be stationed at the Amphitheatre which will be renamed the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre in his honour. The remains of utata will lie in state and will be open for public viewing before being transported to Qunu where he will be laid at his final resting place, for the state funeral on Sunday just before noon.
By: FANISILE NKUNA
Edited by: M.D.B