South Africa: Lewis & Mlangeni - the Funeral As Spectacle

opinion

Last week two men, Andrew Mlangeni and John Lewis, both tied by a cruel fate of the struggle for human rights, were buried in a time of disease and unease across the world.

"Who could be unmoved at the sight of the images of all these men who had won fame in their time, now gathered together as if alive and breathing? What spectacle could be more glorious than this?" remarked the Greek historian Polybius on Roman funerals he had witnessed.

Last week, in very different contexts, the United States and South Africa witnessed the funeral as spectacle. Two men, Andrew Mlangeni and John Lewis, both tied by a cruel fate of the struggle for human rights, were buried in what is a turbulent and confused moment; a time of disease and unease across the world.

Both were gentle souls yet they could claim the fire in their bellies when the moment called for courage and truth. Both funerals put the lives of these men on full display. Their life's choices could more than bear the scrutiny of the generation they now leave behind.

In the case of John Lewis, his casket travelled through all the places which held meaning...

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