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South Africans mourn, celebrate Mandela

South Africa Mandela Obit

Mourners gather outside the JOhannesburg home of former president Nelson Mandela Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 where Mandela died Thursday night after a long illness. (AP Photo/Antoine de Ras) SOUTH AFRICA OUT. NO SALES. ARCHIVES

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From page A1 | December 06, 2013 | 16 Comments

JOHANNESBURG — As the news of Nelson Mandela’s death spread across South Africa, residents of Soweto gathered in the streets near the house where he once lived, singing and dancing to mourn his death and celebrate his colossal life.

The people of South Africa reacted Friday with deep sadness at the loss of a man considered by many to be the father of the nation, while mourners said it was also a time to celebrate the achievements of the anti-apartheid leader who emerged from prison to become South Africa’s first black president.

President Jacob Zuma, dressed in black, announced the news of Mandela’s death Thursday night on television, saying the 95-year-old known affectionately by his clan name “Madiba” had died “peacefully” at around 8:50 p.m. while in the company of his family.

“He is now resting. He is now at peace,” Zuma said. “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.”

The president said all national flags would be lowered to half-mast from Friday until after a state funeral. Many South Africans, having missed the news after going to bed, would awaken to a country without its spiritual and moral leader.

“First sleep in a Mandela-less world,” South African journalist Brendan Boyle tweeted. “We’re on our own now.”

In the black of night, several hundred people milled around outside Mandela’s home in the leafy Houghton neighborhood of Johannesburg. The mood was lively rather than somber. Some sang and swayed. A man blew on a vuvuzela, the plastic horn widely used at World Cup soccer games in South Africa in 2010. Another marched toward the house and shouted: “Nelson!” People photographed a makeshift shrine of candles, a national flag and bouquets of flowers. A framed portrait of a smiling Mandela was propped against a tree with he caption: “Rest in peace, Madiba.”

Mandela had been receiving medical care in the home in past months, where he had been in critical condition. Outside Mandela’s former home on Vilakazi Street in the Soweto area of Johannesburg, about 40 people celebrated Mandela’s life by dancing and singing.

“I’m disappointed. I’m sad,” said Thumelo Madikwe, a 29-year-old accountant. “But at the same time, he had his part in life and he did it very well. It’s fine that he goes. He was old.”

At Nelson Mandela Square in the upscale Sandton neighborhood of Johannesburg, six people stood at the foot of a six-yard (meter) bronze statue of Mandela, paying homage to the leader. The six were two whites, two blacks and two of Indian descent, representing South Africa’s “rainbow nation” that Mandela had fought and sacrificed for.

“For 23 years, I walked a path with this man since he was released,” said Sonja Pocock, a white 46-year-old pharmaceutical sales representative. “I’m from the old regime. He’s like my grandfather. He is my grandfather.”

The blonde sales executive burst into tears.

Krezaan Schoeman, a 38-year-old Afrikaner colleague of Pocock’s, spoke as her friend went to arrange some red flowers she had laid at the statue’s feet. It was past midnight and the square, ringed by restaurants with Christmas lights arrayed on fake trees casting a silvery glow, was mostly empty.

“I admired him. He stood for something, for freedom and equality,” Schoeman said. “Even if some say he was a terrorist, he stood for his beliefs. Everybody’s got a right to life. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, black or white. That’s what he stood for. And for forgiveness.”

Standing nearby with a friend, Valentino More, a black 24-year-old student, said he had heard of Mandela’s death on Twitter, then had rushed home to see Zuma make the announcement. He then came to Mandela Square, needing to pay tribute.

“It came as a shock,” More said. “It’s a big day, actually, because our father just passed.”

Big gatherings of mourners were expected in coming days as the country prepares a formal farewell for a man who helped guide the country from racial conflict to all-race elections in 1994.

“He transcended race and class in his personal actions, through his warmth and through his willingness to listen and to emphasize with others,” retired archbishop Desmond Tutu said in a statement. “He taught us that to respect those with whom we are politically or socially or culturally at odds is not a sign of weakness, but a mark of self-respect.”

F.W. de Klerk, South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, said he and Mandela first met each other in 1989 and concluded they could do business with each other as the country embarked on its long-awaited transition to democratic rule.

“Although we were political opponents – and although our relationship was often stormy – we were always able to come together at critical moments to resolve the many crises that arose during the negotiation process,” de Klerk said in a statement.

Human rights advocate George Bizos told eNCA television that Mandela, a longtime friend, never wavered in his dedication to non-racial and democratic ideals.

“He was larger than life,” Bizos said. “We will not find another like him.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 16 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • CD BrooksDecember 06, 2013 - 5:30 am

    What an incredible journey. RIP Sir.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich GiddensDecember 06, 2013 - 8:05 am

    This ''news'' article is what I call PROPAGANDA. The news media and government are creating, setting and controlling the FALSE APPEARANCE that Komrade Mandela was always just a gentle benign kindly grandfather who marched down the street singing ''kumbaya'' and ''we shall overcome'' with Martin Luther King, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. RUBBISH! Mandela was a member of the terrorist arm of the African National Congress and a Communist. Scores of people were killed by the bombs they planted at public places like the Johannesburg railroad station back in the 1960's. Mandella even admitted it at trial and pled guilty. In 1985 Pic Botha offered him amnesty if he would renounce violence and Mandella refused! No--I'm not buying this government and news media garbage as white farmers are now slaughtered by blacks in South Africa. There's not going to be a happy ending in south Africa----there's going to be a blood bath!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Russell V KinzDecember 06, 2013 - 7:54 pm

    I'll give you aparthied and his un just prison, but he was still a terrorest, tyrant, and a raceist. He tore apart a stable government (granted raceist too) and left the society and country in shambles.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodDecember 07, 2013 - 6:22 am

    Ever hear of this guy, George Washington, who was not only a terrorist but raised and led an army of terrorists and insurrectionists against a stable government, eventually bringing that government down? What replaced it was an unstable loose confederacy of squabbling states. The revolution forced thousands of loyalists to leave their property behind and flee for their lives. And to make matters worse, he was a slave owner of black men, women, and children until the day he died. The revolution he led preserved slavery for another 90 years, and it only ended after a huge war between the squabbling states that killed hundreds of thousands and devastated the lives of millions. Yet this guy Washington was revered by many in his own day, and as memories faded and a sympathetic press and band of historians took over, he became an almost deified figure known widely as the father of his country.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FDCDecember 07, 2013 - 6:48 am

    What a nasty, ill-intentioned piece of agitprop is this comment by our resident big government, progressive apologist (and self-proclaimed authority on almost everything). George Washington caused the emancipation of his slaves and frequently expressed disapproval of the practice. Mr. Wood's attack on President Washington is about as valid as saying President Obama's record is to be sullied because he plays the rich man's game of golf while vast numbers of Americans are unemployed. Phooey to you, Rick Wood.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895December 07, 2013 - 7:34 am

    FDC: Not ill-intentioned at all. Just a sarcastic respond to the truly ill-intentioned comments about Mandela. I have amply demonstrated these opinions are a matter of perspective, and one might be seen as hypocritical if condemning Mandela while glorifying Washington.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodDecember 07, 2013 - 6:25 am

    I'm glad de Klerk, Mandela's fellow Nobelist, was not forgotten at this time and in this story. When his time comes, we will see a similar outpouring. Not identical, but similar.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. SmithDecember 07, 2013 - 9:03 am

    Wow, RLW: Your "sarcasm" runs deep. Someone dares to be critical of Mandela and you feel obliged to counter (with great enthusiasm) that with an all-out attack on one of our greatest patriots and presidents--if not THE greatest? What did George Washington ever do to you to warrant that? ;>)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodDecember 07, 2013 - 6:41 pm

    Mr.S: Sarcasm means I don’t really mean what my words say. My admiration for Washington is second to none. My point, in case anyone else missed it, is people in South Africa feel the same about Mandela as we feel about Washington. There are many parallels between them, and both are revered for the good they did for their people regardless of their flaws and failings. They also do and did not enjoy the same respect from the “other side” of the conflicts they fought in and helped resolve.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FDCDecember 08, 2013 - 6:50 am

    Rick Wood: An old saying used years ago by IBM applies: "Words once spoken are like bullets once fired; they cannot be recalled." You claim you didn't mean the disgusting words you wrote about President Washington. If so, why did you utter them in the first place? Why did you wait to publish your "explanation" until you were called out? Either you are trying to weasel out of a really vile utterance and hope that it will just go away or you are just fibbing, hoping that we will all think you are just a wonderful patriot who temporarily lost his way. In either case, Rick, you exposed more of yourself in a completely unflattering episode.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodDecember 08, 2013 - 7:53 am

    FDC: I uttered them to flush people like you out. Now substitute "Mandela" for "Washington" and imagine yourself a South African, and you will start to understand how disgusting and hateful the other utterances here really are. They weren't being sarcastic.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FDCDecember 08, 2013 - 8:04 am

    Rick Wood: People like me? Did I utter any hateful or disgusting remarks about Mr. Mandela? No. In case you don't understand that, I repeat: NO. Anything you consider hateful and disgusting I may have said are directed only at you. As is typical of many of the other comments you post in this forum, you slither and slide, dodge and weave, and hope that if you write enough words, you can bluff your way out of the very mess you created. No point in discussing this any further with you, you will never, ever admit you may have yourself created a problem with your use of hateful and disgusting utterances. Adieu

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodDecember 18, 2013 - 1:29 am

    FDC: Yes people like you who don't understand history, or the history you understand is so sugarcoated it becomes less than useless. A good read for you to start to catch up would be "Lies my Teacher Told Me" by James Loewen. By the way, the title is a bit sarcastic, so don't jump all over the book and not get past that.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. SmithDecember 07, 2013 - 7:37 pm

    Not buying it, RLW. And I'm highly skeptical of some of your somewhat loose interpretations of our nation's historical events and their outcomes, but like Dr. Samuel Johnson, LLD., you have a knack for being able to argue both sides of an issue fairly well. Perhaps historians will be as kind to Mandela as they have been to Washington. The odds seem to be in his favor at this point.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. SmithDecember 07, 2013 - 7:47 pm

    Sorry. My last post was intended for Rick Wood.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw89December 08, 2013 - 3:52 am

    Not buying what? And what loose interpretation? So you agree with Rich, et al. more than me?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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