PRETORIA, South Africa — Thousands of people lined up Wednesday to say goodbye to Nelson Mandela, whose body lay in state in Pretoria in the building where the anti-apartheid hero was inaugurated in 1994 as South Africa‘s first black president.
Several people fainted in the stifling heat as South Africans waited their turn to file past Mandela’s casket after family members, foreign dignitaries, and celebrities paid their respects at the imposing Union Buildings, perched on a hill overlooking the city.
By afternoon the summer heat and lack of access to water and toilets caused several people to pass out and tempers to fray as mourners waited in line for their last chance to see the man regarded as the father of democratic South Africa.
“There’s a 5,000-strong crowd here. There’s not one mobile toilet, no water, there’s nothing for the people. People are becoming upset and frustrated,” said Ronelle Johnson-Hoskins, who had been queuing since morning.
Mourners, some carrying infants on their backs, were also turned away if they did not have an identity document, she said, something they did not know they needed.
The government said in a statement that identity documents were not required, and said the cut-off time for those hoping to view Mandela’s body had been reached by 3:30 pm, meaning many hundreds of people were likely be turned away.
Any perception that the government had mismanaged the logistics of Mandela’s lying in state could further infuriate South Africans, a day after President Jacob Zuma was humiliated by boos and jeers at the memorial ceremony.
The government also faced complaints it used a fake sign language interpreter for the memorial, who gesticulated gibberish before a global audience of millions and outraged deaf people across the world.
A spokesman said Pretoria was looking into the allegation.
Mandela’s death on Thursday at the age of 95 has brought an outpouring of grief and mourning in the country he led as president from 1994 to 1999, as well as celebration and thanksgiving for his life and achievements.
Earlier thousands of people lined the streets as the black hearse carrying Mandela’s coffin wound its way to the official seat of government from the capital’s main military hospital. The flag-draped casket was met by officers representing branches of the military.
“This is a significant moment for me and my children,” said teacher Thapelo Dlamini, 48, who had been waiting on the street for two hours with his two children to watch the cortège pass.
Among the first to file past Mandela’s casket were singer Bono, model Naomi Campbell and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. F.W. de Klerk, South Africa’s last white president, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela, appeared to wipe away a tear as he passed the coffin.
“I want to see him. Even if I have to stand here for three hours, I want to see him. It’s my last chance,” said Habib Urehem, 66, a teacher of Islam.
South Africa’s social services postponed the launch of a call center for victims of gender violence, instead offering counseling for those distressed by Mandela’s death. Most calls had been about funeral details, though some callers wanted counseling for personal bereavements, a spokeswoman said.
In Pretoria, the mood was more sombre than jubilant, a marked departure from Tuesday’s memorial in Soweto, where the crowd danced and sang in the rain to honor Mandela’s memory and booed and jeered Zuma.
Mandela’s death has diverted attention from corruption scandals in Zuma’s administration, but it has also underscored the gulf between South Africa’s first black president, a towering figure of the 20th century, and its fourth.
Although South Africa has been transformed since the end of white-minority rule in 1994, it remains one of the world’s most unequal societies, plagued by poverty, crime and unemployment.
WORRYING SIGN FOR ANC
Although South African newspapers flayed Zuma on Wednesday, they also reprimanded the crowd for booing during the service to commemorate a man famed for his ability to reconcile and forgive former enemies.
The Star, Johannesburg’s main daily newspaper, ran “Zuma’s Humiliation” as its headline.
The Times newspaper said: “It is a pity that, on the day the world came together to pay homage to Nelson Mandela, large sections of the crowd at the official memorial service heckled and booed President Jacob Zuma.
“Not because our scandal-prone, often bumbling, president doesn’t deserve it – he manifestly does.”
The heckling of Zuma is a worrying sign for the ruling African National Congress (ANC) as it heads for an election next year. But having won nearly 66 percent of the vote in 2009, the ANC is unlikely to lose its majority.
Zuma’s five years in office have been marked by scandal, feeble economic growth and social and labor unrest.
Mandela will be buried on Sunday in Qunu, his ancestral home in the rural Eastern Cape province, 700 kilometers (450 miles) south of Johannesburg.
The village was blanketed in thick mist on Wednesday and the heavy rain had churned up mud roads, making them difficult for vehicles to negotiate.
But while the weather could cause headaches for the organizers, many South Africans were smiling. Tradition has it that heavy rain is a blessing, a sign of an esteemed leader being welcomed into the afterlife by his ancestors.
Separately, burglars broke into the Cape Town home of Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu while he was in Johannesburg to attend the memorial service for Mandela, a Tutu family spokesman said on Wednesday.
Without a doubt, Nelson Mandela was one of the towering figures of our times, a man who became a legend and cultural icon while still alive. Now that he is dead, his detractors are demonizing him while his followers are canonizing him.
Sen. Ted Cruz was quick to find this out after he issued a statement that Mandela would “live in history as an inspiration for defenders of liberty,” noting that “because of his epic fight against injustice, an entire nation is now free.” In response, some of Cruz’s followers wrote that Mandela was a “terrorist,” a “communist,” a “murderer” and more.
Who, then, was the real Nelson Mandela?
According to President Obama, “We have lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth.”
In the words of Bono, “Stubborn ’til the end for all the right reasons, it felt like he very nearly outstared his Maker. Today, finally, he blinked. And some of us cry, knowing our eyes were opened to so much because of him.”
And while he overthrew the evil system of apartheid, Farah says, “Mandela’s revolution brought about … one in which anti-white racism is so strong today that a prominent genocide watchdog group has labeled the current situation a ‘precursor’ to the deliberate, systematic elimination of the race.”
In short, Farah argues, we have been sold a myth about Mandela (think Invictus), in support of which Farah quotes Sonia Hruska, “an early supporter of Mandela” who “worked in his administration.” Hruska states, “After about six years, I realized something serious is wrong; the communist elements are taking over; it’s not what we were promised.”
Farah adds, “Hruska describes routine, violent, racist atrocities of almost unimaginable proportions: kidnap murders, home invasions, gang rapes.”
CultureWatch blogger Bill Muehlenberg also has strong reservations about Mandela, citing South African missionary Dr. Peter Hammond, who notes that “Mandela was the head of the military wing of the African National Committee (ANC),” which Hammond referred to as “the abortion, necklacing and corruption party.”
According to Hammond, “1,000 Africans were killed by necklacing in the country through the ANC, an act where terrorists would ‘put an automobile tire over someone, pour petrol over them [and] set them alight.’”
Muehlenberg continues to say, “Hammond also described numerous other acts of violence that he alleges were committed by the ANC under the order or oversight of Mandela. ‘Missionaries and their kids [were] murdered, bayonetted on the fields—whole families killed by landmines planted in the roads,’ he said.”
And it is without dispute that Mandela signed off on acts of terror against the apartheid government, to the point that even the New York Times tempered its praises for Mandela.
Yet it is hardly a violent terrorist who states, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
And on a Facebook post, Messianic Jewish scholar Stuart Dauermann wrote, “I read his biography ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ and was particularly struck by his extraordinary self-control. When he was negotiating with the leaders of the Apartheid government which had so demeaned and oppressed him and all South African blacks, he writes that he utterly despised these people. Yet he learned their language, Afrikaans, and spoke to them respectfully because he judged it was more important for him to win freedom for all South Africans than it was for him to tell these men what he thought of them. All of this after 27 years of demeaning and cruel imprisonment on Robin Island where the white prisoners wore long trousers, but the blacks were required to wear shorts, as if they were children.”
Others would point out that despite his acts of terror, Mandela was never tortured in prison and did not renounce violence against the government while a prisoner, yet there’s no denying the evil he opposed and there’s no denying the courageous stands he took.
When facing the death penalty in 1964, he famously said, “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to see realised. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
In short: 1) Mandela was a man who resorted to acts of violence and terror to overthrow injustice; 2) he was a man who stepped into the role of national and international statesman with dignity; and 3) he was a man who was more communist than conservative and whose legacy in South Africa remains mixed.
While the assessment of Muehlenberg is meant to be simple rather than profound, it appears to be accurate: “Mandela was a great man in some respects, but he was also an evil man in some respects.”
At the passing of Nelson Mandela, I am acknowledging that he was a humanitarian who gave his life to ending apartheid in South Africa and human racism on this planet.
His efforts to do so, especially when he was a young man, certainly included horrendous acts of violence. He and his wife were “vigilantes for freedom.” Their methods of warfare were designed to match and overpower the inhumane tactics of their oppressors. President Mandela was jailed for many years for his “war crimes.”
Young Nelson and Winnie Mandela were radical rebels and following very much in the philosophy of, say, a Malcolm X, who said we must obtain freedom “by any means necessary.”
When I was a young civil rights freedom fighter, we had to deal with Alabama Gov. George Wallace. He was a virulent monster of a man who approved the lynching, burning and bombing of African Americans during those days. I lived in “Bombingham,” where our family home was bombed by hateful people who didn’t want black people to be free.
There are pictures of historical accounts of George Wallace standing right there and saying that he hated people if they had black skin or brown skin. And he wanted to keep us out and called us bad names. But Jesus Christ came into his life, and he repented, and he said that he was wrong.
There was another one, Bull Conner, who reminds me of the same hateful spirit that was driving Adolf Hitler. He lived as a terror, and he is remembered as a terror today. On the one hand, Wallace recanted. On other hand, Adolph Hitler was never jailed for killing millions of Jews, and his horrible eugenics and genocidal practices are alive today.
Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood considered Adolf Hitler to be her muse. Unsuspecting people have embraced abortion and killing contraceptives because the slick marketing campaigns of Hitler and Sanger are still alive today. I was once a victim of Planned Parenthood and was once pro-choice. I didn’t sanction the killing of millions of babies, but I did have two secret abortions. I later repented and now am a voice for the lives of babies and their mothers, the sick and the elderly.
There was another man, John Newton, who wrote the song “Amazing Grace.” He was a friend and mentor of William Wilberforce and William Penn. He was bringing black people—African people—transcontinental and bringing them to be sold into the slave trade. It was lucrative, and he was making money. It was horrible, and yet when the spirit of the living God got his attention, reminding him of the love and mercy of Jesus Christ, he repented and wrote a song that says, “I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.” A wretch like him, his life was transformed.
Again, I had abortions myself. I was pro-choice at one time in my life. I came to my senses. I repented and turned away from the lies. I was blind and now I see.
The apostle Paul was blinded as far as his mind and his actions were concerned when his name was Saul. And he killed Christians. He was there at the stoning of St. Stephen. And yet, on the way to Damascus, his physical sight was taken from him when he was confronted—when he was riding his donkey on the Damascus road. And he became one of the greatest apostles that the world has known and remembered, and we thank God for the ministry of apostle Paul.
Over the years, Mr. Mandela began to become seasoned; humility came into his life, and at 95 years of age, I believe he was a totally different man than the young man who was doing everything he could to ending apartheid but was giving back as good as he got or as bad as it was.
While he sanctioned abortion during his presidency, he was perhaps like me and millions of others who were once deceived into believing that abortion and harmful contraceptives would help our people. I wish I had told him the truth. I didn’t know the truth when I met him in the early 1970s. So I failed him. I didn’t speak to him about our babies.
What is happening now in the battle to end human injustice, to stop man’s inhumanity to man, whether we are women, men or little children, is occurring on a divided battleground. Some battle against racism, based upon skin color or class or rank. Some battle against reproductive genocide, and that is certainly appropriate as well, wherein we fight for the lives of the little babies in the womb, their mothers, the sick and the elderly and demand that they be treated with equality, justice, mercy and agape love. And then some battle against sexual perversion. That in itself also is a very important fight.
Now, if we can see that we are battling a three-headed hydra monster—racism, reproductive genocide and sexual perversion—and get to the heart of those matters and fight them all together with the understanding that we can overcome evil with good, then at the death of someone like a Nelson Mandela, some of us would not feel as though he should just be totally lambasted, ostracized, cast out of history and considered to be one of the most terrible people that ever lived.
And so I do acknowledge the work of President Nelson Mandela. He confronted apartheid, a serious evil during his lifetime. He did some things that were not good. And we pray that he had an opportunity to meet his Maker before he left the planet and that he was able to reconcile those differences.
I feel that I failed President Nelson Mandela because when I actually met him around 1970, when he was released and he came to America, he visited the Martin Luther King Center. I was pro-choice at that time—ended up having a second abortion and a miscarriage related to the harmful contraceptives and all of that.
But over the years, I became pro-life, after which I became repentantly pro-life. I wish now that I had reached out to President Nelson Mandela. I wish that in the 1990s, when he was signing legislation that was going to cause millions or at least hundreds of thousands of babies to be aborted, I wish I had gotten Maafa 21 to him and Blood Money to him. Of course, these films had not been produced at that time, but a little later they and many other great truth- and life-revealing films have been released.
I feel that I failed him by not reaching out to him and trying to get with him and sit down and have a talk about my transformation, how I came from thinking that it was OK to abort a child to knowing that it was wrong because that’s a sacred human life. I failed, but I pray that I don’t fail millions of others, and I pray that that message will continue to resonate across the globe.
So, I thank God for Jesus, for redemption, for an opportunity to acknowledge the good deeds of people and to pray and repent for not giving them information that I had that could transform their thinking, prick their hearts and cause them to include the unborn in their battles.
Source: CHARISMA NEWS.
Alveda C. Kingis the daughter of the late civil-rights activist the Rev. A.D. King and niece of Martin Luther King Jr. She is also a civil rights and pro-life activist, as well as director of the African-American outreach for Priests for Life. Click here to visit her blog.
Afenifere is not impressed in any way with the hypocritical tears of the bad and ugly of Nigeria‘s politics over the transition of the noblest African statesman of all seasons,Dr Nelson Mandela who passed on to immortality on Thursday at the age of 95.
Like the proverbial array of knives that surface the day the elephant falls,all manners of crooked politicians in Nigeria have churned out effusive praises and eulogies mostly crafted from hired pens on the life and times of the irrepressible spirit and worthy example to humanity who now resides among the ancestors.
Without knowing it these fellows have turned the “celebration” of Mandela to an open trial and self-conviction as all they throw up about the great Madiba are what they lack and the very reason why Nigeria lies prostrate at the intensive care unit of failed countries of the world .
We have seen how those who attempted to manipulate the constitution of the country to perpetuate their stay in office and those who annulled the freest and fairest election in the history of the country are celebrating Mandela as the great democratic spirit who refused to seek a second term in office which he was constitutionally entitled to do.
Those who require extra lives to serve jail terms for their economic crimes against the people if justice flows in Nigeria now laud Mandela for spending 27 years of his life in gaol for the only “crime” of seeking freedom for his people.
We are being reminded of the many sacrifices Mandela made to give humanity to the oppressed blacks of South Africa by power merchants whose preoccupation is making life miserable for their own people and selling them cheap to all manners of interests worse than apartheid .
There is no gainsaying the fact that the Nigerian political class(crass!) are fouling Mandela funerals with their odiferous emissions as the world reflect on the passage of this great son of Africa.
Rather than intruding into the assembly of bonafide mourners ,our politicians should bury their heads in shame for lacking the character and conviction of Mandela to serve the people with selflessness ,their lack of integrity and moral force to effect change and their hedonist pursuits at the expense of the greatest good of the greatest majority which was the hallmark of Mandela’s public life .
They should close their eyes and imagine their own funerals and imagine how many genuine mourners would show up who were no contractors or political hangers-on.
Adieu the great Madiba ,may your tribe increase forever !
National Publicity Secretary,
President George W. Bush once reportedly said that in history we are all “dead.” But every now and then, someone emerges in our collective consciousness who we wish could live with us eternally. And every now and then some of them do in fact stay with us forever, even after their physical presence is no more. On December 5, 2013, President Zuma of South Africa announced that the great champion of humanity, Rolihlahla Madiba Mandela, who was later named “Nelson,” had joined our glorious and progenitor ancestors.
Every commentator has since yesterday erroneously referred to Mandela as South Africa’s “first Black” President. In fact, he was the first President of the now multi-racial, multi-lingual, and multi-religious African nation of South Africa, which the freedom fighters called and still call Azania. Every other national leader before his election in 1994 in that geographical expression was the head of an occupying gangster regime whose plundering, pillaging, rampaging and inhumane atrocities are better left undignified with mention as the world mourns Mandela.
My mother was celebrating my birth in 1964 when Rolihlahla was being sent to jail in South Africa. By 1981 I had arrived as a Freshman at the then Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey) and immediately became part of the Black student community. My first involvement in an activist mode was my organizing and participatory efforts at the college in the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa. Apart from protesting and petitioning for divestment in South Africa by US companies and pension funds that had shares in companies which did business with the racist regime of South Africa, we brought representatives of the Pan-African Congress and the African National Congress who were on observer missions at the United Nations in New York, to speak at our events on campus. And nothing inspired us in the Pan-African Student Society (which I founded), the Black Student Union and Utimme Umana La Voz Oculta Magazine (which I later served as Editor-in-Chief) at the college more than the knowledge that in prison was the physical and spiritual symbol and embodiment of the struggle for humanity in South Africa, Mandela. We needed him released unconditionally and led by Randall Robinson of Trans-Africa, we so demanded and protested.
By 1990 when Mandela was released from prison, we had overcome the lie and deception of “constructive engagement” and in a fashion reminiscent of the cradle spirits of his ancestors, Mandela became the forgiving glue that held the real nation together – a nation that only truly became one in 1994. Now that the glue has rested, one wonders what would become of the collective of peoples who called him “father of the nation.”
My concern, as often is the case when a freedom fighter passes on, is the recurring lessons in our history. Power, especially evil power, concedes nothing – not freedom, not human dignity, not equality or equity – without a demand and a sustained struggle. While Mandela became the symbol, many countless and unknown others paid much higher prices. And while many western nations and companies continued to exploit the resources of South Africa, the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro and our Cuban brethren helped our people reach a fait accompli with the surrendering forces of apartheid and their allies.
Today just about all former allies of the defeated apartheid regime celebrate Mandela. And therein lies another lesson for this and future generations – that in time all of our vilified, isolated, despised, and ostracized genuine freedom fighters become beloved, revered and celebrated icons. The true path to immortality is to live with, fight for and die for the oppressed, the maligned and the exploited, a choice that has always demanded great sacrifice and gumption.
And so Mandela lives in all who remain committed in the struggle for liberty, equality and equity. In a week or so we will bury “Nelson.” But long will live the spirit of Rolihlahla!
Ugorji O. Ugorji, Ed.D.
Executive Director, African Writers Endowment, Inc.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” — Nelson Mandela
It was February 1990,I was in Primary four (4). It was not yet break period nor closing time, I remember vividly as a primary school pupil, so it was un-usual when suddenly we heard our school bell ring, hurriedly we picked up our books and bags and went to the open space where we had our devotions before the start of classes daily.
Our headmaster and some teachers were laughing loudly in circles, finally the headmaster in his baritone voice announced that school was closed for the day and that Nelson Mandela has just being released after 27 years in prison.
As a little boy, I was very inquisitive and I read anything in print I laid hands on including newspapers.
I remembered his name and how we sang ‘free Mandela’.
What I couldn’t understand was why a man released from prison in far away South Africa could send us home before the close of school.
A few more inquiries, I was briefed on the sacrifice and price he had paid. I was drawn to him from that moment and I read as much as I could about him and followed him up till death.
There is no controversy, there will never be another Nelson Mandela. Not in Africa.
He was the greatest.
He did a single term as President of South Africa and resisted every attempt to make him seek re-election despite the fact that he had spent the most productive part of his life in prison for the same cause.
A very rare trait in Africa where most of her leaders would rather die or prefer to be disgraced out of office.
Today, the world stood still for Nelson Mandela, not for how much he amassed, but for his legacies.
To the Nigerian public office holders that have looted the country blind and stashed away funds for their fourth unborn generation and beyond in a manner Karl Max describes as ‘primitive accumulation of wealth’, I got just one word for you.. ‘…riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.’ PROVERBS 27:24
Don’t just join the rest of the world to celebrate the life of Mandela, also do well to emulate him so you can also be celebrated in death.