Tourists, hawkers converge on Vilakazi Street

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madiba lou RIP

Associated Press

A young girl with a placard showing the face of Nelson Mandela marches with others to celebrate his life, in the street outside his old house in Vilakazi Street, Soweto. Picture: Ben Curtis

Johannesburg - Former president Nelson Mandela's old neighbourhood in Vilakazi Street, Soweto was dominated by tourists, hawkers and the media on Saturday morning.

Ice-cream vendor Eliot van Wyk said he was doing a roaring trade as people descended on the area to feel close to South Africa's first democratically-elected president, who died in Johannesburg on Thursday night.

“I am always here. I did not come just when this happened,” Van Wyk said, while dispensing ice-lollies from a cooler box on his bicycle, adorned with a picture of Mandela.

Another street vendor said there were normally not as many hawkers in the area.

Tour guides ushered groups of tourists around the Mandela House Museum, where he and his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase, moved in 1946.

They divorced in 1957, and the next year Mandela was joined there by his second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Families strolled through the cordoned-off street, many of them telling their young children about the Nobel laureate's life and its significance to South Africa today.

A mound of flowers was heaped at the entrance to the house and at a white board, where the public could write their thoughts on Mandela's death.

Media teams from around the world walked up and down the street trying different camera angles and flagging down people to interview.

A handful of men dressed in African National Congress outfits danced in the road and sang struggle songs. - Sapa


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