Seeing Mandela's face moved me - Zille

2013-12-11 23:04

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - Madiba looked at peace, Western Cape premier Helen told Capetonians on Wednesday shortly after arriving from Pretoria where she viewed the late struggle icon's body.

"I saw him today, his face at peace, a face that must symbolise both in its physical features, and its spiritual features everything that we must become as nation," she shared with tens of thousands of people gathered at the Cape Town stadium for the Mother City memorial event.

Zille contrasted this with the photographs of Mandela's smiling face plastered across the country.

"That [smile] must have masked such a deep pain over a vast number of years when he sacrificed to bring us freedom and to bring us a constitution that defends us today."

A small group of people, dressed in ANC T-shirts booed Zille but their voices were drowned out by the crowd, who cheered as Zille shared her sentiments.

"When we look at this great natural wonder of the world, we think of the great wonder of humankind symbolised in Madiba's capacity to forgive and to build one nation with one future," she said.

Zille urged the crowd to now take up the same struggle and sacrifice.

"His face symbolised what we must become - one nation at peace with ourselves and the world. Seeing his wonderful face was one of the most momentous and moving moments of my life. I will never forget it."

Zille began and ended her tribute with songs sung in isiXhosa.

Earlier, former Springbok captain Francois Pienaar described Mandela as a "spiritual coach and captain" to sportsmen and women - drawing a loud response of approval from people, many of whom travelled long distances from the deep rural areas of the Western Cape to be at the memorial.

Life changed

"In 1967 I was born into apartheid... 27 years later, as the fortunate leader of the Springboks, I had the opportunity to meet the father of the nation. My life changed forever," he said.

Pienaar spoke about the ability sport had to bring change to people's lives, and recalled how Mandela had recognised this.

"Armed with these lessons, Madiba urged his comrades to keep the Springbok emblem," he said of the symbol which to many represented a divided sporting community.

"We became one team, playing to one country," Pienaar said, prompting more loud cheers from the over 50 000 crowd.

Speaking of the Springboks' 1995 rugby world cup victory, he said: "For the first time we were world champions together.

"Pienaar conveyed condolences to the Mandela family on behalf of the sporting fraternity.

Earlier, tears and cheers filled the stadium when a swelling crowd sang the national anthem and thousands of people waved the national flag.

The city's official memorial, titled "Nelson Mandela: a life celebrated", was expected to draw 53, 00 people.

A variety of musical acts was planned for the evening, including Scottish singer and philanthropist Annie Lennox and local bands Freshlyground and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Popular local hits such as Jabulani and Asimbonanga bounced off the stadium's walls as the crowd responded to artists' calls to raise their voices.

Deaf concert-goers

A notice was flashed on a screen informing deaf concert-goers of a special room where speeches would be interpreted.

Mandela's face smiled down from several large television screens above the masses.

Athlone resident Bernadette Simpson said Mandela's loss had been as painful for her as the loss of her father four years ago.

She had drawn political inspiration from him when she was a student leader in Bridgetown, Athlone, in the 80s.

As an 18-year-old matric pupil at the time, the police had falsely arrested her for burning a bus, and she had spent two days in jail before the case was withdrawn.

"I know what it's like a little bit to be sitting in a van, looking out of that window and seeing everybody free," she said.

"I noticed people go to work and you have to sit in this prison, not that you did anything, but just for what you believe in."

Simpson said she had been treated as a criminal and did not eat or drink during her time in custody because she was suspicious of the police.

"Psychologically and emotionally I was prepared to die, because that is just how it was going to be."

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  helen zille  |  cape town

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.