Choral music rings out at Madiba’s hospital

2013-07-12 13:44

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An American school choir performed outside the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria where former president Nelson Mandela was spending his 35th day in a critical condition.

The Northwestern High School choir from Hyattsville, Maryland, in the US, entertained locals with praise songs and hymns. They also sang Shosholoza and the South African national anthem.

The choir is in the country to participate in the Ihlombe South African Choral Festival. Their conductor Leona Lowery said they arrived in the country yesterday and saw fit to wish the renowned leader well in hospital.

“We are thankful to God for the man he is and what he has done for the world,” she said.

One of the choir members, Victoria Okater, said being outside the hospital was a wonderful experience even though they could not see or speak to Mandela. She said they could feel his presence through the messages on the wall.

Leeuwenhof Akademie headmaster Johan Bezuidenhout said today: “We just came here to pay our respects to him and his family. As a school, we are praying for him and his family.”

The Bedfordview, Johannesburg, school brought 370 pupils in six buses to the hospital. Bezuidenhout said the children were being taught about the history of South Africa and they knew Mandela was the country’s first black president.

“He has done so much for the country. He fought for his beliefs and went to prison for 27 years for South Africa,” a Grade 5 pupil said.

“We look up to him as a person and it means a lot being here. We hope he gets better soon and is able to celebrate his birthday with family,” she said.

Members of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) lit candles and prayed outside the hospital, with a picture of Mandela from 1996 wearing a Denosa T-shirt.

They praised and encouraged their colleagues to keep working hard to ensure Mandela was released from hospital soon.

“We have colleagues working here. We just want to say have strength and don’t tire so that we can see Tata again,” said Denosa president Dorothia Matebeni.

Stella Sebati, a retired nurse, said Mandela gave their profession respect. He spoke to them in 1996, when he was still president of the country.

“He encouraged us to soldier on. He said we should never lose hope and be dedicated in serving the ill,” she said.

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