Johannesburg - Congress of SA Trade Unions members chanted, danced and whistled at the Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Soweto on Friday to celebrate the life of former president Nelson Mandela.
“Kante Oliver Tambo o ne a ntse a mpona ga ke tsamaya tseleng e thatha (Oliver Tambo saw me when walking a difficult path),” they sang.
“We are celebrating the life of a gallant (man), there will be no Mandela like Tata (father),” said Thato Melawana.
Melawana, 35, a mineworker from Randfontein, west of Johannesburg, said he was privileged to have lived in the era of Nelson Mandela.
“I grew up not knowing him. He was put in prison for 27 years, we were not allowed to see his picture until 1990, when he came out of prison. It is a privilege for me to know him and learn from him as a true leader.”
He said Mandela left behind a free nation living in harmony.
“Because of him we no longer see racial lines. We are all South Africans whether you are black, white, brown or yellow.”
Cosatu in Gauteng was hosting the memorial service for South Africa's first democratically-elected president.
The elderly statesman died on December 5 at his home in Johannesburg, aged 95. He will be buried in Qunu in the Eastern Cape, where he spent much of his childhood, on Sunday.
The jubilant workers wore red T-shirts with a smiling Mandela on the chest with the words “Hamba Kahle Tata (father) Nelson Mandela” above his face.