People from across the world should do what they need to do in order to mourn so they can celebrate the life of former president Nelson Mandela, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Thursday.
“If you must cry, cry. If you must sing, sing. If you want to run and sweat, run and sweat. Do what will make you heal,” Mantashe said at a memorial service for Mandela, in Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape.
“If you mourn and you sit down you become helpless. We can’t be helpless because Mandela is dead.”
He said Mandela’s life should be celebrated so people could channel their anger and pain and make it positive.
Speaking at the King Sabata Dalindyebo FET College, Mantashe said Mandela was one of the world’s greatest icons.
“There is a man who was blessed to have a life of 95 years, and that life must be celebrated. The fact that he gave that life to fight for freedom of his people is cause for more celebration.”
Mantashe said Mandela valued family life and knew the importance of family. He was not just a global icon, but a family man.
Mantashe took the crowd through Mandela’s journey with African National Congress and some of his early childhood stages.
Mandela was a prisoner for 27 years and was arrested because oppressors were offended by him because he thought freedom was a right, he said.
“He was imprisoned because he loves freedom not for himself but for his people.”
Mantashe said a reason to celebrate was because Mandela knew there was life after death and that he had not feared death.
“He knew that the day one dies is better than the day one is born, and one reason is because death goes with pain and pain has a refining effect on a human being.
“We are here to celebrate life, but we are pushed by the pain of death, because the pain of the departing of Mandela has a refining effect on every one of us.”
He said that because of the effect Mandela's death would have on millions of mourners in the world, his life should be celebrated.
The hall was packed with people with banners, flags and yellow ANC T-shirts with Mandela's face on the front and, on the back, the words: “We will always remember you. Vote ANC.”
A group of about 40 women, dressed in green and black ANC Women's League attire, danced and sang in front of the hall while the band played.
The ANC organised the memorial service and the hall was decked in green, yellow, and black. The event was overseen by military guards both outside and inside the hall.
Mantashe said on Thursday was the seventh day since Mandela died.
“The ANC was shaped by Mandela (and other leaders) and in the same process the ANC was shaping them,” he said.
He said people should not fear Mandela's death because many other leaders were formed and shaped in the same way.
“Mandela has done a lot and you will continue to see his fingerprints,” he said.
Mandela died on Thursday night at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg. He will be buried in his hometown of Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, on Sunday. - Sapa