Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela has been laid to his final rest at his home town of Qunu (pronounced Kunu if you don’t want to risk using the wrong one of the eighteen Xhosa click varieties). So much has been written about him over the last two weeks, and so many eulogies have been delivered, that there is really nothing original that I can add. Stan’s tribute to him last week movingly summed up the feelings of many South Africans of our age. (Mind you, Stan is much older than I am.)
On Tuesday Soccer City, the huge football stadium in Soweto (built for the world cup in 2010), was packed to capacity with people of all races and from all walks of life, from the unemployed to superstars and presidents. Unusually for Johannesburg in summer, rain settled in and drenched the mourners, many of whom had waited since the early hours of the morning to be sure of a seat. One woman said that even the angels were crying. Still, in Africa rain is always a blessing, which is why the unit of Botswana currency is the Pula, meaning rain.
At the memorial, it was Barrack Obama whose speech seemed to best capture Mandela’s life and the mood of the audience. It focused on Mandela’s contribution and what it means for all of us – not only in South Africa but everywhere. It demands that, while we may fall short, we should at least try to emulate his example. If you haven’t already heard President Obama’s speech, and if you are still reading this blog you will want to hear it, you can find it HERE.
|President Zuma booed at the memorial|
|President Obama being "translated"|
|Madiba casts his vote in 1994|
Since “selfie” is the word of the year, I can’t resist concluding with this cartoon, sent to me by a friend in the US.