Mzwandile Vena looks at a candle lit for the late South African president Nelson Mandela during a remembrance ceremony.
Mzwandile Vena looks at a candle lit for the late South African president Nelson Mandela during a remembrance ceremony.

SA celebrating, not mourning Mandela

By Mirah Langer Time of article published Dec 8, 2013

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Johannesburg - Babies being baptised, hands raised in praise, bodies shaking in dance and black-clad politicians were some of the scenes at prayer services held for struggle icon Nelson Mandela on Sunday.

The Bryanston Methodist Church in Johannesburg hosted President Jacob Zuma, as well as Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

A church-goer repeatedly shouted out “oh yes” during Zuma's speech, in which he praised Mandela's values and urged South Africans not to forget his life lessons.

“ 1/8These prayer services 3/8 will go a long way to heal our country,” said Zuma.

“Mandela distinguished himself for good things and good things only.”

Madikizela-Mandela, wearing a black turban and an elaborate necklace, sat stone-faced and sombre throughout proceedings.

Earlier at the church, Dylan, Channing, Mangeliso and Aba Victoria were amongst some of South Africa's newest citizens baptised.

At the Maponya Mall in Soweto, members of the Economic Freedom Fighters' Gauteng provincial command team waited in the parking area.

“From here we will have a convoy to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's house to pass our condolences and message of support,” said provincial convenor Mgcini Tshwaku.

A memorial service is to be held at the Nelson Mandela Centre for Memory in Houghton, Johannesburg, later on Sunday.

Former president Thabo Mbeki is expected to attend a prayer service at the Oxford Shul on Sunday evening.

In Cape Town, mayor Patricia de Lille shared her personal connection with Mandela in a speech delivered at a special council meeting. He would phone her every year on her birthday, she said, according to a copy of her speech.

“He flattered me by calling me his favourite opposition politician.”

Outside Parliament, over a hundred bunches of flowers were tied to the railings, as nearby, worshippers streamed into St Mary's Cathedral for the prayer service.

Father Jerome Aranes said Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel was due to speak on anti-corruption after his service.

During a prayer service at the Ngangelizwe Rotary Stadium in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said people should not just mourn Mandela's death, but celebrate his life.

“We are celebrating more than mourning because it was a life lived to the fullest.”

Mandela had “led us to the promised land”, he said.

Mantashe said it was difficult to keep corrupt people out of the ANC because the party was so big, and compared it to opening a window for fresh air. It was impossible to avoid mosquitoes from entering.

“You don't deprive yourself of fresh air but deal with the mosquitoes,” Mantashe said.

The Chief Apostle of the 12 Apostles Church, Caesar Nongqunga told Mantashe during his address that the party needed to stop its infighting.

“We do love you (the ANC), we just want to see you united,” said Nongqunga.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the ANC's provincial leadership, including the province's premier Senzo Mchunu, attended a service at the Durban Christian Centre Jesus Dome.

Outside the Durban City Hall there were two books for those wishing to pay tribute to Mandela and leave their condolences.

SABC news reported that Free State premier Ace Magashule attended one of a number of church services held across Bloemfontein. Magashule told congregants at the Eagle Christian Church in Rocklands to celebrate Mandela's legacy. At the Christian Revival Church video clips of Madiba were played.

Mandela died aged 95 at his Houghton, Johannesburg, home on Thursday. He would be buried in Qunu next Sunday. - Sapa

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