15 December 2013

South Africa: Mandela's Funeral - Teach Your Children Well, So They Can Learn From History


After a week of awkward missed cues and missteps amidst the national mourning of the death of the nation's first democratically elected president at the age of 95, the final public funeral service on 15 December in Qunu became a history lesson to locate South Africa's struggles squarely in the wider African context. J. BROOKS SPECTOR looks back at the day's ceremony.

In the Tuesday memorial service at FNB Stadium in Soweto, most of the rhetoric (Archbishop Tutu, President Obama, and President Castro's efforts excepted) had served up warm-over, by-the-numbers efforts - with many acutely disenchanted by these efforts. Along the way, the boo-birds in the stadium, the schizophrenic gibberish-signing interpreter, the inclement weather, and the South African president's own lacklustre - at best - eulogy had all contributed to a distinctly letdown feeling for many - a sense that the memorial service had not reflected accurately the nation's feelings for Nelson Mandela.

But then, the more intimate (if close to five thousand people can be said to be intimate) service in Qunu on Sunday offered a summing-up of the meaning and purpose of a man's life - recalling and honouring the late Nelson Mandela's immense achievements. And, it also...

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