‘I will remember this moment for the rest of my life’

2013-12-11 17:01

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Organisers have had their hands full today as thousands of people descended on the Union Buildings to view the body of Nelson Mandela.

Among them was a Grade 6 pupil who said: “I will remember this moment for the rest of my life.”

Pauline Zwane (40) left her home in Soshanguve, west of Pretoria, this morning. She was determined to see the former president for the last time.

Zwane was helped out of her car and into her wheelchair by her son, Tshepo.

She said nothing would have stopped her from coming to view Mandela’s body today, not even a pressing family event this weekend.

Zwane will always remember Mandela for helping South Africans avoid war by preaching peace and standing by his principle that his release from 27 years of incarceration should not be conditional.

“I remember as a child growing up, there was always this person people were talking about who was in jail,” she said.

“When he came out, we expected war – I certainly did. But he came and showed us the way to peace and reconciliation and we were not expecting that. He took us by surprise.

“The peace and unity that he planted is a seed that we should all nurture and grow.

“We held him in high esteem but he showed us that he was just another person, just like any one of us. And if he can do it, what stops us from doing the same by walking in his giant footsteps?” asked Zwane as she was escorted to the front of the long queue which stretched from the Union Buildings down to Arcadia.

For 12-year-old Kishen Reddy, Mandela was a “hero”.

Reddy, a Grade 6 pupil from Irene Primary School in Centurion, said he was honoured to have lived at the same time as Mandela.

“That’s why when my father said we should come here, I was in the front row. I am lucky to have lived in his lifetime. I will cherish it forever. “Mandela’s words that you should love your enemy and understand them and forgive them, is something I will try and do in my life. I will remember this moment for the rest of my life,” said the boy who shares his birthday, July 18, with Madiba.

Those who took time off from their jobs and daily lives to pay their final respects to Madiba included people in groups singing struggle songs, parents with their children, couples and office workers.

Ndebele music queen Nothembi Mkhwebane, who met Mandela on five occasions and serenaded the public at Madiba’s historic inauguration in 1994, was among those who took the buses ferrying people to the Union Buildings.

“I want to be with the people. We should all remember his wise words. Those words will show us the way if we should ever go astray as a country,” said Mkhwebane, who is a recipient of the National Order of Ikhamanga.


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