Cape Town - Hundreds of mourners, representing most political parties in Parliament, packed St George’s Cathedral on Friday to bid farewell to popular IFP politician Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, with speakers saying his legacy would not soon be forgotten.
The real value Oriani-Ambrosini brought to the country would live long after his death, although his voice had gone quiet, leaving a vacuum in places where he once was active, Dean of Cape Town the Rev Michael Weeder told the congregation.
Oriani-Ambrosini, 53, who advocated for the medical use of marijuana, was suffering from late-stage lung cancer at the time of his death by suicide two weeks ago.
He was buried during a private family funeral after Friday’s service.
Clearly deeply moved, Oriani-Ambrosini’s close friend and IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi sat in the front row as Weeder led a service that included a poetry reading and the special paying of last respects by 23 Freemasons.
In his sermon, Weeder said every human had a tangible and an intangible presence in life. The memories of the people who were evicted from District 6 were intangible, but they also gave it a tangible quality through a special ritual that was performed every year.
“Every year, people come from all over the Cape Flats and they go to Hanover Street. Each one places a little stone on a stone cairn to make their memories of District 6 and Hanover Street tangible,” he said.
“People who miss Mario will find a tangible part of him in the legacy he had left behind, in what he had done for this country,” Weeder said.
“They say we die twice in life. The first time is when we breathe out our last breath and the second time is when the last person who remembers our name also dies…
“Although with Mario the physical is gone, the intangible remains.”
Weeder comforted Ambrosini’s family, including his wife Carin and son Luke, saying memories that were painful now because of his recent death, would later change into joyful ones.
Buthelezi was part of the funeral party that led the coffin out of the church.
Speaking afterwards, he said Oriani-Ambrosini was like his own son.
“The country’s chief justice praised him for being one of this country’s greatest adopted sons and for making one of the greatest contributions to his adopted country,” Buthelezi said.
“I have lost my adviser, my friend and my son.”
Reports of his suicide at the time of his death said the family confirmed he “decided to end his suffering”. They respected his decision.
“This choice was made not out of weakness, fear or despair, but from his courage or determination to be the final decisionmaker concerning his own fate.”
Indepedent on Saturday