8 December 2013

South Africa: Mandela - a Life Worth Celebrating

Photo: enews channel
Nelson Mandela will be buried, next to his children, in Qunu in the Eastern Cape as he wished.

A life well spent and one that is worth celebrating rang as the theme of the day at a prayer service to honour the late former President Nelson Mandela.

"We grieve together while understanding that 95 years of life were well lived and should be celebrated. It is a life worthy of celebration," former Minister Tokyo Sexwale said on Sunday.

Sexwale joined throngs of South Africans who came out to commemorate the life and times of Mandela who passed away on Thursday night.

President Jacob Zuma declared today as a National Day of Prayer and Reflection following the former statesman's death.

On Sunday, South Africans from various faiths congregated together under a white marquee to reflect on Mandela's legacy at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.

The commemoration of the former statesman's life was not one of a sombre mood with speaker after speaker commenting on Mandela's sense of humour even in trying times.

In his address Sexwale imitated Mandela's voice as he recounted a ghost story Mandela had once told him.

Mandela's great grandson Luvuyo Mandela thanked the public for the support the family has received.

"What happens next is that we pick up from where he left off. Yes we are in mourning but we should celebrate his life," he said to a filled to capacity marque erected in the centre's parking lot.

Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein described today as a momentous and historic day for South Africa. The chief rabbi spoke of Madiba's recognition that it was important to bring people of religious faith together in a spirit of unity.

"The greatest tribute we can make to Madiba is to live like him. He showed us tolerance and generosity of spirit," he said.

This was echoed by Sexwale who said that Madiba stood for freedom, democracy and non-racialism.

The Rabbi urged children to read Mandela's book "Long walk to freedom".

The National Interfaith Council of SA representative Mathole Motshekga said that Mandela had embraced Ubuntu.

Film maker Anant Singh described Mandela as a person who had an epic life and that he had been supportive of the movie which is currently showing in cinemas across the country.

Struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada said of his memories of Mandela: "I want to remember him as a politician who could laugh at himself," he said, reflecting on a story Madiba once told him. In the story, Madiba had had a conversation with a little girl who had called him a "stupid old man".

Children accompanied their parents to the commemoration to pay tribute to the statesman.

Prior to the start of the commemoration service people placed flowers at the entrance of the centre and signed messages of condolences set out at the entrance of the centre.

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