Prayer and cake for mourners

2013-12-07 09:16

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An impromptu prayer service brought momentary solace and silence to the celebratory crowd gathered outside Nelson Mandela’s home in Houghton.

Late yesterday afternoon, as the crowds were in awe of bikers clad in ANC colours, a truck with the party’s slogan arrived. It was quickly turned into a stage with large speakers.

Music blared for a couple of moments, which made the crowd dance and sing along until Public Service Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, a close family friend, asked the crowd to quieten down as the Mandela family was holding a prayer service inside the house. A few moments later, Sisulu returned: “On second thought, we would like you to be part of the prayer service,” she said.

A few pastors were brought on stage and opened with a hymn. The crowd listened intently as the pastor preached about faith and how it has brought the nation this far. He said that without faith, Mandela could have given up in prison as 27 years was a very long time.

“Imagine being a nation without faith. Hold on to that faith in all times,” he said.

The crowd was much bigger than the previous night, forcing police to close off all streets around Madiba’s house. But the mourners would not be deterred by the long walk to his house and the traffic close to his home.

Hundreds of mourners sang songs and waved the national flag. Parents carried their children to a spot near Mandela’s house where hundreds of flowers and messages were laid. Even though the police barricaded the whole street leading to Mandela’s house, the mourners weren’t discouraged and instead used the barricade as a wall to put up messages and hang flowers.

As the evening approached, the crowd continued to sing struggle songs waving ANC flags, wearing Madiba T-shirts and stickers.

Little girls walked around offering people cake.

Meanwhile, in Durban several thousand people paid their respects to the late former president Mandela at an interfaith memorial service held at the Durban City Hall yesterday.

Regional ANC and city leaders were joined by representatives of various faiths and speakers from alliance partners in a energetic farewell which started around 4pm.

Much of the event was focused on celebrating Mandela’s legacy, with the mourners joining in gospel and traditional songs throughout the afternoon.

Passers-by attracted by the loudspeakers set up outside the city hall steps on their way home from work joined the queue of people who wrote messages to Mandela in the condolence books put on display by the eThekwini municipality and the presidency.

Some posed for cellphone pictures with the bunches of flowers and pictures of the struggle icon that had been left on the city hall steps before resuming their journey home.

Many of the participants wore ANC T-shirts or women’s league uniform and toyi-toyied in time to struggle songs, which punctuated the more religious offerings. Others wrapped themselves in ANC kangas bearing Mandela’s image.

Many of the passers-by in the city also sported Mandela shirts or shawls.

A handful of vendors in the city centre also did a brisk trade in Mandela gear, but were sold out quickly.

Mandla Gumede, a clerk from Ntuzuma, said he had decided to stop in at the memorial to “say goodbye” to Mandela after being attracted by the music.

“I didn’t know this was happening but it’s good. I’m signing the book to say goodbye. I’ll listen for a while and then go home,” he said.

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