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Anton Dekker
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How could we?

11 December 2013, 13:12

I woke up this morning, and feel seriously cheated. I needed to say goodbye to Madiba to help me to cope with my own feelings of sadness and loss. I needed to be able to do it with all my fellow countrymen that felt the same dark emotions. What did we get? Nothing!

The memorial service at the FNB stadium was a farce! Firstly, the organisers in their wisdom decided to make it an international diplomatic event, completely removing the people from the program. Mandela's entire life after the imprisonment years was driven by his love for the people and children. Where were the people, and most importantly, where were the children?

Now the memorial itself. This is a country that spend R207 million on “showerhead” Zuma's private residence, and nothing on the memorial of the greatest man this country ever had. We all knew this day was near, so there is absolutely no excuse for the shabby, badly organised, cheap event we all had to witness. If this was the ANC governments idea to be frugal, they picked the wrong place to safe money!

It started with the complete débâcle of the “so-called” public transport service that was suppose to ferry the crowds to the event. Remember, no private vehicles were allowed near the event. Where was the public transport? People waited for hours at the designated pick-up points just to see overcrowded buses driving past them, never to return to pick them up! The result, a half empty stadium, with most of the mourners standing in the rain at bus stops somewhere in the city. We could organise a proper working public transport program for the 2010 World Cup, but not for Madiba's memorial! Really!

For the lucky few that managed to get to the stadium there were a small insignificant stage in a massive stadium, supported by an completely inadequate sound system. When the choir sang the national anthem, what was suppose to be an rousing emotional sound, was downgraded to screeching trickle, most of the stadium couldn't hear. In fact half the anthem was gone before most people realised that it was happening!

And then the speeches!

Again the public address system was a complete joke. The majority of the crowd couldn't hear Madiba's grand children paying eloquent homage to their grandfather! The presence and masterful oratory of Barrack Obama somehow transcended the technical inadequacies of the speaker system, and the crowd stretched their ears to hear the man. The following list of speakers were completely lost on the crowd. Apart from the fact that they never saw the reason nor the significance of having people from strange countries, speaking in strange languages telling them how they should mourn one of their own! That accompanied by the inaudible sound, made for an unruly lot that disregarded all the pleading and castigation from Cyril Ramaphosa, and just simply carried on doing their own thing! Well, to be honest, most of them couldn't even hear Cyril's remonstrations!

And then there was Zuma!

Ever time anyone mentioned Jacob Zuma they booed! Every time they showed Zuma on the big stadium screen, they booed! Someone in their wisdom realised that the big screen was the focus of the crowd and duly switched it off during the speeches of the international guests. That didn't help much. Now the crowd couldn't hear and couldn't see what was going on. Just extras to quietly fill in the background to the main actors on the stage. Eventually uniformed officers were send in to remove the booing ring leaders. That caused people to start leaving the stadium. First a trickle and then they simply got up and left in droves. When Zuma got up, the last few booed again. Disregarding what Mac Maharaj is trying to spin in public today. “No Mac, the president didn't get a rousing welcome, they booed him, and it wasn't all over in four minutes, after they booed him they left the stadium!” Notably was the lack of “crowd shots” from the SABC's coverage during Zuma's speech, because the crowds were leaving the stadium at that stage! The ultimate disrespect, just get up and walk out the room while he is speaking!

Now it also transpired that the sign language interpretor for the event were a completely fake piece of window dressing. Social and other media are buzzing this morning with people from the deaf and 'hard of hearing' community voicing their disgust at this final insult. This man was completely untrained in South African and international sign language, and simply made up signs as he went along that made no sense to anyone. How stupid? Did the idiotic organisers not realised that the eyes of the entire world will be on this event, and something like this is completely unacceptable!

So, that is what we got from the powers that be. A cheap politically orchestrated inaudible afterthought. We, the people, were completely left out of the thought process when this débâcle was planned! Shame on the organisers for the failed transport system and totally inadequate sound system! Shame on the planners who tried to turn this into a diplomatic event, completely disregarding the feelings of the people, who were always Madiba's focus! Shame on the ANC rabble rouser’s that persistently and disrespectfully tried to turn this solemn event into a party political point scoring exercise! Most of all, shame on us. We are now portrayed as a bunch of uncivilised, unfeeling animals that cannot even honour our greatest son with any dignity! And, shame on me for expecting anything else!

“I'm, so sorry Madiba, you deserve so much more!”

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