Singing, dancing to celebrate Mandela's life

2013-12-06 14:59
Three-year-old Kuda is seen at the former home of Nelson Mandela in Vilikazi Street in Soweto. (Werner Beukes, SAPA)

Three-year-old Kuda is seen at the former home of Nelson Mandela in Vilikazi Street in Soweto. (Werner Beukes, SAPA)

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Johannesburg - As politicians and other high-profile people churned out statements on Nelson Mandela's death, many ordinary South Africans just sang and danced.

Shortly after President Jacob Zuma announced on Thursday night that Madiba had died, world leaders such as US President Barack Obama responded with messages of condolences.

Local politicians, trade unions, businesses and religious leaders added their tributes to the 95-year-old anti-apartheid leader.

As statements flooded into newsrooms, South Africans arrived outside Mandela's Houghton, Johannesburg home, and at his old house in Vilakazi Street, Soweto.

Young and old, some still in their pyjamas, started singing outside his homes; anything from the national anthem to traditional hymns.

In Vilakazi Street a 70-year-old grandmother summed up the mood: "As Africans when we are happy, depressed or mourning we sing. Singing relieves us.

"I am relieved that Madiba passed. It was unfair to expect him to jump out of his sick bed and run around like a boy," Ernestina Matshaka said.

She danced like a youngster to a freedom song about Mandela and said she would be very happy if South Africans could remain calm and respect the legacy Mandela left. The crowd of young and old were energised by Matshaka, dancing and singing with abandon.

At the Houghton house, a group formed, danced and sang "Nelson Mandela ha hona ya tshwanang le ena" (Nelson Mandela there is no one like you), accompanied by loud clapping.

Flowers, cards and candles were laid in the flower beds near the house's gate as police officers looked on. A man and woman brought a bag of candles and packed them out neatly on the grass before lighting them.

In the streets and offices of Johannesburg workers spontaneously greeted and talked to each other on Friday morning, discussing the death.

A newspaper seller sang songs of praise in honour of Madiba.

Radio stations played songs honouring Mandela. In Soweto, singers momentarily fell silent when a car playing Johnny Clegg's song "Asimbonanga", isiZulu for "We have not seen him" passed by.

- Share your memories of Nelson Mandela with us.

- Friends, colleagues, comrades and family of Nelson Mandela are invited to share their memories and tributes, and to light a candle for him, on his profile at

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  jacob zuma  |  johannesburg

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