Mandela's legacy celebrated

2014-12-05 20:56
George Bizos and Mandla Mandela (Stefan Heunis, AFP)

George Bizos and Mandla Mandela (Stefan Heunis, AFP)

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Johannesburg - A year after his death, former president Nelson Mandela's legacy was celebrated throughout the country on Friday.

To commemorate the first anniversary, musician Johnny Clegg's song, Asimbonanga, took on a new meaning.

The Zulu word Asimbonanga means "we have not seen him", and when the song was initially written in 1989, it reflected Mandela's absence in South Africa, due to him being banned in the media.

In a video released on YouTube on Thursday, Clegg is shown teaching the song to a group of schoolchildren.

"When we say 'asimbonanga', it means we still have a long way to go, it’s in our hands, it’s in the hands of the next generation," he sings to them.

The video echoes the motivational words of Mandela, with images of South Africa and its people in the background.

It features the winners of the 2014 MySchool Choir competition from Riebeek College Girls' High in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape.

Mandela's legacy was also celebrated during commemoration events held throughout the country on Friday.

At the Union Buildings in Pretoria, acting President Cyril Ramaphosa said the spirit of the anti-apartheid icon lived on and inspired the nation.

"Though we no longer feel his physical presence, his spirit continues to inspire us. It continues to fortify us," Ramaphosa said in Pretoria, at the one-year commemoration of Mandela's death.

"His spirit enjoins us to continue to strive for peace, freedom, and justice."

Several Mandela family members, including his grandson Mandla, his granddaughter Ndileka; struggle veterans, including Ahmed Kathrada, George Bizos, and Sophie de Bruyn; and other dignitaries were present.

‘I know he is smiling’

Mandela's widow Graca Machel, who attended the commemoration in Pretoria, said he was now happy and smiling, wherever he was.

"I know that he is smiling and happy among the family he chose to build, the family he chose to build with [Walter] Sisulu, [OR] Tambo, [Lilian] Ngoyi and so on," she said, adding that he had built a family of strong men and women.

"On the day of his passing I was not able to think. I was numb... But looking back I can imagine him tall and proud, walking, and all of them rising to welcome him... I know Madiba is in good hands."

Gauteng Premier David Makhura said Mandela would forever be remembered for dedicating his life towards the "liberation of humankind from all forms of discrimination, oppression and exploitation".

"Through his selfless service and uncompromising fidelity to the cause and concerns of the people, he has become an everlasting monument engraved in the hearts of the overwhelming majority of our people, young and old, black and white, rich and poor."


Meanwhile, the ANC on Friday paid tribute to Mandela and thanked him for his "selflessness and unwavering" contribution that he made towards the party.

"A product and maker of history, comrade Nelson Mandela lived his life pursuing the values and principles of the African National Congress," treasurer general Zweli Mkhize said in a statement.

"Chief amongst these was the pursuit of equality, unity, reconciliation and nation building."

Mkhize said the money Mandela left for the ANC in his will would be used to establish a trust in his name.

"The trust will work together with other sectors of society including academia and civil society to keep Madiba's legacy alive through the education of generations still to come about the founding values of the African National Congress as lived by comrade Nelson Mandela and his comrades."

The sentiments about Mandela's character were echoed by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), who described him as "a selfless leader, a peace maker and a freedom fighter”.

Acting NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said Mandela was a good friend of the mineworkers, energy and construction workers.

"He inspired and motivated them on many occasions to take education seriously so that they can empower themselves and their communities," he said in a statement.


Mining company Anglo American said Mandela's contribution to the country, including the influence he had on the Constitution and the economy, was immeasurable.

"Madiba was integral to the ushering in of democracy in South Africa, and he led our country with distinction, stature and humility throughout his presidency," executive director Khanyisile Kweyama said in a statement.

"He is recognised worldwide in perpetuity as a giant among men; an iconic leader who fought throughout his life not only for equality, but for the basic human rights of all."

Earlier, Jacaranda News reported that a commemoration event was also being held at the Nelson Mandela Museum in the former president's home town in Qunu, Eastern Cape, where Mandela's grandson Ndaba Mandela, Umkhonto we Sizwe members and other politicians were present.

Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was expected to attend the proceedings in Qunu.

The SA National Defence Force, in partnership with the Robben Island Museum, also unveiled an official replica of Mandela's cell on Friday.

Mandela died aged 95 on 5 December last year.

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  pretoria  |  east london

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