EVEN in death, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela brought people together.
For three hours, patient members of the public waited for a glimpse of the hearse carrying the Struggle stalwart's body to pass by them as it took her on her final journey to her Orlando, Soweto, home yesterday.
“We would have waited longer if we had to. Do you understand the woman Mama was? She is worth the wait,” said 62-year-old Grace Masemola, who was part of the guard of honour for the icon.
But this was no ordinary guard of honour. From a distance, the pavement bursting with local residents, resembled a garden that flowered smiles and pollinated a sense of togetherness. Even before Madikizela-Mandela’s coffin left Kupane Funeral Parlour songs of praise filled the air in celebration of her life.
Struggle songs echoed as ANC and EFF flags were waved. Hundreds of people lined the streets as the funeral cortège made its way to the stalwart's home.
“It has been far too long since unity engulfed a township as it did today,” one community member quipped. “Neighbours once again became neighbours as we came out of our houses and sat together with our children in the street. You don’t see that any more.” As the hearse approached, motorbikes that formed part of the procession revved their engines. Sirens and hooters awoke the slumbering, and they burst into louder melodies.
They ululated, raised their fists in the air, burst out into Struggle songs and waved their flags. “Amandla! Viva Mama Winnie Viva!,” they intoned as the hearse edged closer.
Umkhonto We Sizwe veterans led the procession to Madikizela-Mandela's home. Her casket, draped in an ANC flag was wheeled by a group into her home, among them her grandsons.
Residents spoke of how the sense of closeness resembled how Soweto once was. “It's a pity we are no longer a unit. We thank Mama for reminding us how to carry each other. Hopefully we can reignite this culture of ubuntu back into our townships,” Masemola said.
As culture decreed, Madikizela-Mandela’s body spent her final night at her Soweto home. She will be buried today at the Fourways Memorial Park just a few steps away from her great-granddaughters, Zenani Zanethemba Nomasonto Mandela and baby Zenawe Mandela, on the family’s plot at the memorial park.
The Saturday Star