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Mandela’s Legacy As Health Campaigner By Evelyn Tagbo.

By Evelyn Tagbo

It’s not often that we see politicians celebrated the way former South African president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela has been celebrated the past two weeks.  As I watched the remains of the 95-year-old activist committed to mother earth last Sunday, something in me wished we had him a little longer.  Many in South Africa would wish same. But alas Madiba’s long walk to freedom has ended.

For quite some time now, South Africans battled with the difficulty of dealing with the prospect of losing the man who not only led the country out of apartheid but saved it from the precipice of a civil war.  So deep is the affection for Mandela among South Africans of all races that the thought of his death seemed incomprehensible.  It seems too high an aspiration to place on one individual, but in the eyes of many in Africa, Mandela represents hope, freedom and peace, virtues that are very short supply on the continent.

Mandela stands out as a human rights icon and a remarkable lesson in leadership. In no other part of the world is that lesson most needed today than in Africa. In many ways, what Robert Mugabe is today in Zimbabwe is what Nelson Mandela could have been in South Africa; but he chose a different path. He opted for reconciliation, reconstruction and restoration and in doing so united a broken nation. His life and the causes that he lived for resonates among people of all race, creed and persuasions.

The Mandela style is a message to tyrants everywhere that there is a greater honor than hanging on to power at all costs. In fact, it teaches that you can gain more power by giving power away. I can only imagine where Africa would have been today if the likes of Gaddafi of Libya, Omar Bongo of Gabon, Yaya Jameh of The Gambia, Sani Abacha of Nigeria, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, José Eduardo dos Santos of Angola and Mugabe of Zimbabwe had towed the Mandela path.

For the science community in Africa, Mandela would be remembered among other things, for his contributions to the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS.

In a continent with a history of poor leadership in the response to the epidemic, Mandela stood out in his ardent campaign for scientific solutions to combating the spread of disease. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to two-thirds of the world’s HIV-positive people, and more than 80% of the AIDS deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.

Though recent progress has been made, HIV/AIDS continues to devastate Africa’s most productive population. The vast majority of people living with HIV/AIDS on the continent are between the ages of 15 and 49 – in the prime of their working lives.  With 75 per cent of Africa being under 35 years of age, it’s obvious that the disease isn’t just a challenge of the present but a threat to the future.

Among factors that have led to the rise of HIV/AIDS in Africa are ignorance and indifference on the part of political leaders. Many in Africa still view AIDS as ‘American Invention to Discourage Sex’. Unfortunately, South Africa’s incumbent president, Jacob Zuma and his immediate predecessor Thabo Mbeki fall within this category.

During a rape trial in 2006, Zuma infamously stated that taking shower after sex helps to minimize the risk of contracting HIV. In a region where unprotected sex is thought to be the main way in which AIDS is spread, no one can truly tell how many young people Zuma’s theory on AIDS have made victims. At least 28 percent of schoolgirls in South Africa are HIV positive according to the country’s health ministry.

Mbeki, another AIDS denier, did even worse damage. “Mbeki announced repeatedly throughout the late 1990s that AIDS was not fatal, that HIV did not cause AIDS, that home brew treatments could cure AIDS and that life-saving antiretroviral drugs were being promoted so the West could profit at South Africa’s expense,” recalls Arthur Caplan, head, Division of Medical Ethics at New York University Langone Medical Center.

According to a Harvard University research, his retrogressive AIDS policies led to the death of 330,000 South Africans. Mbeki’s policies, influenced largely by “denier” scientists such as University of California’s Peter Duesberg, led him to reject offers of free antiretroviral drugs and grants that could have saved the lives of many South Africans. Soweto’s largest cemetery has up to 800 funerals every month, and they’re running out of room. The majority of the fresh graves are for AIDS victims, according to CBS News.

Mandela was late to embrace the fight against HIV/AIDS. “In 1990, when Mandela was released from a 27-year prison sentence, the rate of HIV infection among adult South Africans was less than 1 percent. When the anti-apartheid activist was elected president four years later, AIDS was on it way to being an out-of-control plague, with infection rates doubling every year. In 1998, the rate of HIV infection among adults in South Africa was almost 13 percent, with 2.9 million people HIV positive,” noted Caplan.

When Mandela eventually came on board the fight, his campaigns led to significant changes in attitude at both government and individual levels. He shocked many in South Africa when he announced that his only surviving son, 54 year-old Makgatho, died of AIDS in 2005. For the rest of his life he will work with other campaigners to fight stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS.

“Our country is facing a disaster of immeasurable proportions from HIV/AIDS. We are facing a silent and invisible enemy that is threatening the very fabric of our society,” Mandela said in a message on World AIDS Day in 2000 comparing South Africa’s battle against HIV/AIDS to the fight against apartheid.

On the broader level, Mandela, “understood that exclusion from education was a major limiting factor to development,” says Harvard’s Calestous Juma, and “motivated by this concern, his name to the creation of a new generation of African Institutes of Science and Technology, seen as the beginning of a new generation of African research universities. Two have already been established, in Tanzania and Nigeria, and a third is planned in Burkina Faso.”

Evelyn Tagbo writes from Massachusetts.  She worked as journalist in Nigeria and Ghana for more than ten years.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters 

The Battle For Supremacy Between Two Of Africa’s Giants By Hannatu Musawa.


Hannatu Musawa

On the global arena, there has been an unceasing battle for supremacy between two super power – the US and China – both states trying to strengthen their influences not only in economics but also in the field of politics. This supremacy battle is also playing out on the African continent, between the first and second largest economies – South Africa and Nigeria respectively – are in a budding struggle for supremacy. The most populous country in Africa and indeed the black race and the fourth most populous within the continent, are undeniable hegemonic powers in their respective sub-regions and both account for half of sub-Saharan Africa’s economic might.

The relationship between both countries can be examined in four parts: firstly, during the ‘independence boom’ sweeping through Africa in the 1960s to the latter stages of the infamous apartheid epoch in 1993. This period saw Nigeria playing a prominent role in bringing to an end apartheid rule not only in South Africa, but amongst the southern African countries; secondly, from 1994-1998, saw sour relations of both countries, under the administrations of Nelson Mandela and late Gen. Sani Abacha,; thirdly, from 1997-2007, during the presidencies of Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki, saw improved but lopsided relations amongst both states; and lastly, the period from 2008 hitherto, now under the administrations of Jacob Zuma and Goodluck Jonathan, is further witnessing lingering bilateral tensions. These periods of relationships have been fraught with a minimal mix of co-operation and largely of competitiveness, evident in rivalries between regional hegemonies, not only limited to Africa but to other regions within the comity of nations such as China and Japan, Brazil and Argentina, Germany and France, etc.

Topical reports that Nigeria’s economy could overtake South Africa’s as the largest in five years have rendered many nationalistic South African analysts livid. The rivalry between both countries can be traced to South Africa’s criticism and backing of Nigeria’s expulsion from the Commonwealth in 1995 after late Gen. Sani Abacha executed human rights campaigner Ken Saro Wiwa and 8 of his Ogoni followers, infamously dubbed the “Ogoni nine.” Mandela previously believed that he had established personal reassurance from Abacha for clemency for the Ogoni nine. Feeling betrayed he called for oil sanctions and Nigeria’s expulsion from the Commonwealth. Hence, Nigeria responded in 1996 by boycotting the Africa’s Nations Cup which was held in South Africa, having previously in 1994, won the competition in Tunisia and was thus unable to defend her title.

During the Obasanjo and Mbeki administrations, bilateral trade increased and Nigeria became South Africa’s largest trading partner. However though, South African companies in Nigeria began assuming predatory behaviors, profiting from the vast Nigerian market – three times larger than South Africa – while refusing to open up their own markets. Culpable South African companies includes: MTN, Multichoice, Woolworths, etc. Also, at the turn of the 21st century, xenophobic attacks began being meted out to Nigerian nationals residing in South Africa. Furthermore, exasperated by the ignominy visited on Nigerians trying to obtain visas to South Africa, Nigeria imposed stricter visa requirements on South Africans. Media reports in South Africa consequently began disseminating negative stereotypical reports of Nigerians as drug-traffickers and criminals.

With the ascension of both former vice-presidents – Jacob Zuma and Goodluck Jonathan – to the helm of affairs in their respective countries, saw the continued rivalry and burgeoning “special relationship” between both countries. The election of Zuma in 2009 saw South Africa’s increased cooperation with Angola, having identified it as a foremost strategic ally. This consequently created tension with Nigeria, as it appeared to relegate its special relationship between both countries. Also exacerbating both countries rivalry is the fact that South Africa is the only African representative in the Group of 20 (G-20) and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) groupings.

Both countries also disagreed via disparate approaches in tackling the post-election conflicts in Ivory Coast. Nigeria adopted a belligerent posture towards Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to concede defeat after losing the country’s election. South Africa provocatively sent a warship to the Gulf of Guinea in Nigeria’s traditional domain/stronghold where she is the hegemonic power. South Africa however belatedly recognized Alassane Outtara’s victory during the polls.

Also, the opposing stance of both nations over the embattled late Libyan Leader, Muammar Gaddafi and the recognition of the government of the Transitional National Council (TNC) during the Libyan revolution, was also an attestation of the burgeoning feud between both nations. Nigeria had backed the (TNC) rebel-controlled Libya, based on the African Union’s Constitutive Principle listed in Section 14 of the Constitutive Act. The Act cannot be implemented in isolation of other principles like democracy, good governance, respect for human rights and social justice amongst others. The Nigerian government had maintained that Libya under Ghaddafi has never been ruled under any known constitution since he took over power in 1969, and thus, the Constitutive Act cannot apply to Ghaddafi who had never run a constitutional government. This stance was further backed by 34 member-states of the AU.

However, South Africa claimed that the AU’s Constitutive Act does not allow the Union to recognize the TNC because it is an illegal force, maintaining that the government can only be removed through constitutional process. They were backed by the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe and Uganda’s, Yoweri Museveni, both of whom have been in power for 32 and 26 years respectively. With Zuma having enjoyed good relations with Ghaddafi over the years, South Africa thus delayed recognition of the NTC and even accused NATO of having abused its mandate in Libya.

In 2012, there was a salient diplomatic clash between both countries at the AU summit in January, over recognition of the government in Guinea-Bissau which Nigeria was supporting and South Africa opposing. That same year, Nigeria and South Africa were embroiled in another diplomatic feud after the authorities at Oliver Thambo Airport in Johannesburg deported 125 Nigerians (including legislators) alleging that their yellow fever vaccination cards were fakes. The Nigerian government responded by deporting 84 South Africans in 2 days, forcing South Africa to apologise.

Also, the same year, Nigeria’s continental battle with South Africa suffered a great blow when South Africa triumphed over Nigeria in a keenly contested election, as Dlamini Zuma of South Africa was elected Chairperson of the AU Commission, thus becoming the first woman to lead the continent. More recently, lingering bilateral tensions were again evident when Abuja ignored Pretoria’s recent invitation to join part of the BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa.

Another evident tussle between both countries is the jostle for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. Nigeria and South Africa have both been non-permanent members on the Council, and Nigeria is poised to begin another 2-year term on the Council beginning in January next year, a record 5th time, a feat parallel to none in the continent, and there is increasing prospects that a single slot would be allocated to the continent on permanent basis, when the Council is reformed and expanded.

From the afore-mentioned extractions, it is evident that there is a growing superiority feud between both nations. Nigeria having played the “big brother” role over the years in the emancipation of South Africa and other southern African countries from apartheid rule, earning her the title of “frontline state”, South Africa should ordinarily be reverent  to Nigeria. However with consistent successive bad governance, ubiquitous leadership deficiency, prevalent corruption and impunity, an overly dependent economy on a single sector inhibiting diversification, and lack of articulate economic and foreign policies, South Africa today can also lay claim to being the giant of Africa. In 1993, when Nelson Mandela was elected president, 33 years after Nigeria’s independence, Nigeria presently trails the economy of South Africa as the largest economy in Africa.

Nonetheless, Nigeria’s foreign policy thrust needs to be articulately appraised to Nigeria and Nigerians’ interest as being the centre of her foreign policy objective, especially in conformity with major developed countries foreign policy thrusts. Also, the policy of reciprocity needs to be adopted by the Nigerian government, so as to serve as deterrence to other nations taking hostile actions against Nigeria and her nationals. More importantly, the criteria of appointing Ambassadorial positions needs to be overhauled, as over the years it has largely been used for obsequious partisan patronage instead of taking into cognizance such qualities as qualification, professionalism, integrity and competence.

With such a foreign policy stance, a viable economic base, an adept purposeful political leadership and viable governance structure, Nigeria would indeed be able to assert her indelible footprints once more across Africa, effectively making her the undeniable giant of Africa.

Article Written by Hannatu Musawa
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Nelson Mandela’s Last Respects: Coffin arrives in Qunu for burial.


Mandela body

Nelson Mandela’s coffin has arrived in his childhood home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, the final leg of its journey. Large numbers of people lined the roads in the rural region to pay their respects as the cortege passed by.

A state funeral will be held on Sunday for Mr Mandela, who died on 5 December.
At least 100,000 people saw the former South African president’s body lying in state in Pretoria over the last three days, but some had to be turned away.
Last respects
The coffin was flown from Waterkloof airbase in Pretoria on a C130 military aircraft, escorted by two fighter jets.
In line with tribal custom, Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla accompanied him on the journey, speaking to his coffin to tell him he was on his way home to rest.
It arrived in Mthatha, 700 km (450 miles) away, shortly before 14:00 local time (12:00 GMT).
To solemn music, the coffin draped in a South African flag was moved by a military guard of honour and placed in a hearse to begin the 32km journey to Qunu, where Mr Mandela had wanted to spend his final days and where he will be buried.
People waving flags and cheering and singing – in places 10 to 12 deep – lined the route taken by the cortege through Mthatha town to pay their last respects.
Tears as well as smiles could be seen on the faces of onlookers.
“He is finally coming home to rest, I can’t even begin to describe the feeling I have inside,” 31-year-old Bongani Zibi told AFP news agency.
“Part of me is sad but I’m also happy that he has found peace.”
Mandela town
Nelson Mandela always said he wanted to be buried in his childhood home of Qunu
Mandela tradition
His funeral will be conducted according to the traditions of the Xhosa people, from which he comes
However, some people expressed their frustration that the convoy did not stop, so they had no chance to view the coffin as people in Pretoria had.
The cortege then drove through the gates of the Mandela homestead in Qunu, where it will rest overnight in the grounds of the royal house of Thembu.
The BBC’s Milton Nkosi in Qunu said it was a powerful moment for the local community to see their liberator coming home.
The Thembu community will conduct a traditional Xhosa ceremony – including songs and poems about Mr Mandela’s life and his achievements – in a giant white marquee that has been specially erected.
Some 4,000 people – including presidents from Africa, several prime ministers, the Iranian vice-president, and the Prince of Wales – are expected to attend.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu – a long-time friend of Nelson Mandela – has now confirmed he will attend the funeral, having earlier said he had cancelled his flight as he had not received an invitation.
The South African government had earlier said the archbishop was accredited, but that no formal invitations had been sent out.
‘Towering figure’
Ahead of the flight to the Eastern Cape, members of the African National Congress paid final tributes to Nelson Mandela at a ceremony in Pretoria.
President Jacob Zuma, other ANC leaders and more than 1,000 members of the organisation which Mr Mandela once led, attended the event at the Waterkloof air base.
It included a multi-faith service and a musical tribute.
Mourners heard President Zuma pay his own tribute to Nelson Mandela, calling him a “towering figure”, “a man of action” and a “democrat who understood the world.”
“Yes, we will miss him… He was our father, he was our guardian. He was something special.”
“We’ll always keep you in our hearts,” Mr Zuma said.

Source: Radio Biafra.

South Africa Buries ‘Greatest Son’ Mandela.

QUNU, South Africa — South Africa buried Nelson Mandela on Sunday, closing one chapter in its tortured history and opening another in which the multi-racial democracy he founded will have to discover if it can thrive without its central pillar.

The Nobel peace laureate, who was held in apartheid prisons for 27 years before emerging to preach forgiveness and reconciliation, was laid to rest at his ancestral home in Qunu, after a send-off mixing military pomp and the traditional rites of his Xhosa abaThembu clan.

As his coffin was lowered into the wreath-ringed grave, three military helicopters flew low over the cemetery dangling the South African flag on weighted cables, a poignant echo of Mandela’s inauguration as South Africa’s first black president nearly two decades ago.

A battery of cannons fired a 21-gun salute, sending booms reverberating around the rolling hills of the Eastern Cape, before five fighter jets flying low and in formation roared over the valley.

“Yours was truly a long walk to freedom, and now you have achieved the ultimate freedom in the bosom of your maker,” a presiding military chaplain told mourners at the family gravesite, where three of his children are already buried.

At the graveside were 450 relatives, political leaders and foreign guests including Britain’s Prince Charles, American civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson and talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

Mandela died aged 95 in Johannesburg on Dec. 5, plunging his 52 million countrymen and women and millions more around the world into grief, and triggering more than a week of official memorials to one of the towering figures of the 20th century.

More than 100,000 people paid their respects in person at Mandela’s lying in state at Pretoria’s Union Buildings, where he was sworn in as president in 1994, an event that brought the curtain down on more than three centuries of white domination.
When his body arrived on Saturday in Qunu, 450 miles south of Johannesburg, it was greeted by ululating locals overjoyed that Madiba, the clan name by which he was affectionately known, had “come home.”
“After his long life and illness he can now rest,” said grandmother Victoria Ntsingo. “His work is done.”
Before the burial, 4,500 family, friends and dignitaries attended the state funeral service in a huge domed tent, its interior draped in black, in a field near Mandela’s homestead.
The flag-covered casket was carried in by military chiefs, with Mandela’s grandson and heir, Mandla, and South African President Jacob Zuma following in their footsteps.
It was then placed on black and white Nguni cattle skins in front of a crescent of 95 candles, one for each year of Mandela’s life, as a choir sang Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, the national anthem adopted after the end of apartheid in 1994.
“The person who is lying here is South Africa’s greatest son,” said Cyril Ramaphosa, deputy leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), who presided over the three-hour ceremony broadcast live across the nation and around the world.
From the Limpopo River in the north to Cape Town in the south, millions watched on television or listened to the radio. In some locations, big screens transmitted the event live.
At the service, touching tributes were paid to the father of the “Rainbow Nation” he helped forge from apartheid’s ashes.
“Farewell my dear brother, my mentor, my leader,” said lifelong friend and fellow Robben Island inmate Ahmed Kathrada, his voice cracking with emotion, drawing tears from mourners.
In his eulogy, Zuma paid tribute to a life that went from freedom-fighter to political prisoner to president. He also briefly turned attention to the future, pledging to continue Mandela’s quest for a free and equal society, free from racial discrimination.
“Whilst the long walk to freedom has ended in the physical sense, our own journey continues. We have to continue building the type of society you worked tirelessly to construct. We have to take the legacy forward,” Zuma said.
The intense spotlight on the departed Mandela has highlighted the gulf in stature between him and the scandal-plagued Zuma. The current president is increasingly criticized for not doing enough to reduce poverty and chronic unemployment and end gaping income disparities that make South Africa one of the most unequal societies in the world.
Mandela served just one term as leader of Africa’s biggest and most sophisticated economy, and formally withdrew from public life in 2004, famously telling reporters at the end of a farewell news conference: “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”
His last appearance in public was at the 2010 World Cup final in Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium, waving to fans from the back of a golf cart.
Yet such was his influence as the architect of the historic reconciliation between blacks and whites that his passing has left a gaping hole at the heart of South Africa’s psyche.
With an eye on elections in five months, the ANC, the 101-year-old former liberation movement Mandela once led, has seized on his death as a chance to shore up popularity that is ebbing even in its black support base.
This calculation backfired badly at a Mandela memorial in Johannesburg on Tuesday when Zuma, under fire for a $21 million security upgrade to his private home, was booed and jeered in front of world leaders including President Barack Obama.
But barring an upset next year, Zuma looks set for another five years in office, during which he will have to address an economy struggling to shake off a 2009 recession and the fragmentation of a vital ANC alliance forged with the unions in the common struggle against apartheid.
With unemployment at 25 percent and racial inequality still painfully evident  — the average white household earns six times more than the average black one pressure for radical economic transformation is only likely to increase.
Against that backdrop, the party is desperate for strong leaders to guide South Africa through the complexities of the 21st century global economy and allow it to claim what it believes is its rightful place at the world’s top table.
There are questions whether Zuma, a polygamous Zulu traditionalist with no formal education, can deliver this.
“We need to raise the level of leadership,” former president Thabo Mbeki, who was unceremoniously ousted by Zuma six years ago, said in eulogies to Mandela last week.
“The transformation of South Africa is a very difficult task, I think in many respects more difficult than the struggle to end the system of apartheid.”

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Mandela Signer: I’m Sign Language ‘Champion’; Claims Hallucinations.

Image: Mandela Signer: I'm Sign Language 'Champion'; Claims Hallucinations

JOHANNESBURG — A South African sign language interpreter accused of gesticulating gibberish as world leaders paid tribute to Nelson Mandela defended himself as a “champion” signer on Thursday, but said he suffered a schizophrenic episode during the event.The interpreter, identified as 34-year-old Thamsanqa Jantjie, told Johannesburg‘s Star newspaper he started hearing voices and hallucinating while on stage, resulting in gestures that made no sense to outraged deaf people around the world.

“There was nothing I could do. I was alone in a very dangerous situation. I tried to control myself and not show the world what was going on. I am very sorry. It’s the situation I found myself in,” he told the paper.

He did not know what triggered the attack, he added, saying he took medication for his schizophrenia.

Millions of TV viewers saw Jantjie interpreting for leaders including President Barack Obama and his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, at Tuesday’s Mandela memorial.

Afterward South Africa’s leading deaf association denounced Jantjie as a fake, saying he was inventing signs.

Editor’s Note: Health Benefits of Prayer Revealed!However, in a radio interview Jantjie said he was happy with his performance at the memorial to the anti-apartheid hero, who died a week ago aged 95.

“Absolutely, absolutely. I think that I’ve been a champion of sign language,” he told Talk Radio 702.

When contacted by Reuters he said he could not understand why people were complaining now rather than during other performances. “I’m not a failure. I deliver,” he said, before hanging up.

The controversy has overshadowed South Africa’s 10-day farewell to Mandela, whose remains were lying in state for a second day on Thursday at Pretoria’s Union Buildings, where he was sworn in as the nation’s first black president in 1994.

Revelations about Jantjie’s unconventional gestures — experts said he did not know even basic signs such as ‘thank you’ or ‘Mandela’ — sparked a hunt for the mystery mimer on Wednesday.

The government, which was in charge of the mass memorial, said it had no idea who he was, a comment echoed by the ruling African National Congress (ANC), even though footage from two large ANC events last year showed him signing on stage next to Zuma.

Jantjie said he worked for a company called SA Interpreters hired by the ANC for Tuesday’s ceremony at Johannesburg’s 95,000-seat Soccer City stadium.

“Absolutely. That’s what happened,” he told the radio.

The ANC denied any knowledge of Jantjie, but said it was investigating.

“I’m very, very surprised,” spokesman Jackson Mthembu said. “We will follow this up. We are not sure if there is any truth in what has been said.”

The death of Nobel peace laureate Mandela triggered an outpouring of grief and emotion – as well as celebration and thanksgiving – among his 53 million countrymen and millions more around the world.

His body will lie in state for a third day on Friday before being flown to the Eastern Cape, where it will be buried on Sunday at his ancestral home in Qunu, 700 kilometers (450 miles) south of Johannesburg.

Thousands of mourners continue to queue to say goodbye to Mandela in Pretoria in the building where the anti-apartheid hero was inaugurated in 1994 as South Africa’s first black president.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


Thousands of SAfricans Line Up to See Mandela Lie in State.

Image: Thousands of SAfricans Line Up to See Mandela Lie in State

People queue in Pretoria to bid farewell to Nelson Mandela on Dec. 11 on the first of three days lying in state.

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.


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.

It was the second time in several months that his home has been broken into. South Africa has one of the world’s highest crime rates.© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


The Great Lesson Mandela Has Taught The World By Dr. Wumi Akintide.

By Dr. Wumi Akintide

Some of us making statements and eulogizing Nelson Mandela have a deeper understanding of his value to the world because we shared a similar background with him as Africans born and raised in the values of traditional rulers who were lumped together and stereotyped by the British imperialists and colonial masters as “tribal chiefs” to use their exact words. Among my progenitors in Akure, for instance, was 38th Deji of Akure named Odundun Asodedero who ruled Akure with an iron hand from 1882 to 1890. He was known to have ordered his wife beheaded for innocently sharing a joke with him in the bathroom as I hinted in chapter 4 page 62 of my Lion King and the Cubs. Mandela like many of us born with the silver spoon in our mouths, to African Royalties, so to speak, are the inheritors of covenant sins which could have predictably prevented many of us from getting out of the box to see the world for what it really is and to thereby reposition ourselves for greatness like Mandela did.

Some of those chieftains and tribal chiefs or traditional rulers like the great Jaja of Opobo to mention one, were collaborators in selling some of their own people into slavery in exchange for gun powder and items like salt and other condiments brought to our shores by the early British colonial traders and explorers like Mungo Park in Nigeria and Christopher Columbus in Dominican Republic and much of the Caribbean and the new world. Mandela as a prince came from that kind of background. That he could break away from that past to do all that he did for South Africa despite his being persecuted and imprisoned for 27 years of his life without losing his sanity or getting embittered to the point of wanting to wreak vengeance on his oppressors and persecutors and their heirs in South Africa and other parts of the world, speak volumes about his uniqueness as a leader. The white world could try all they want. It is fair to say they can never fully appreciate or understand the place of Mandela in human history. They are all today singing Hosanna and some of them shedding crocodile tears because “an array of knives are bound to surface the day the elephant falls” and  because success has many a parents, but failure is decidedly an orphan, if you get my point.

Few of the greatest lessons I am suggesting the whole world must take away from the awe-inspiring life and death of Rolihlahla Madiba Mandela is what this piece is all about. Many a tribute and eulogy have been paid or written on Mandela and a million more are still going to come as the whole world celebrates the greatest African of the 21st century whose final burial is planned for December 15, 2013. The whole world from beginning of creation has arguably had or known a million world leaders from Guinea Bissau to China and Vietnam and from Cape town to to the remotest town in the Tundra region of Canada,  but among the few the world will never forget in a hurry is Madiba Nelson Mandela.

“The man now belongs to the Ages” as opined by the first black American Presidents whose political life has been impacted by Mandela.  I am talking of Barack Obama whose formative years in politics were shaped or influenced by Nelson Mandela whose determination was to rescue his own people from the strangle hold of the an Apartheid government  which was for many years connived at by all of the white world including America, the number one super power. The world would  not forget that America, ins pite of her own colonial past, did not remove the name of Mandela from the long list of freedom fighters who were blacklisted by the West as terrorists by conventional wisdom until 2008 when it became clear to America that the Apartheid Regime was unsustainable given the world consensus against it. America had literally looked the other way before then totally ignoring or sweeping under the carpet the injustice perpetrated in South Africa by their own white brothers and collaborators who were bent on dispossessing Africans of their own Papa’s land as reminded us by late music idol, Sunny Okosu of Nigeria, one of the unsung heroes of Mandela’s freedom.

I see some correlation between the Mandela mystique and the proverbial story of the Elephant and the blind man who thought the elephant was a snake after touching or just feeling the long nostril of the elephant. By touching the body of the elephant, the same blind man had believed  the elephant had to be a rock or a stone (Okuta rabata sa). By touching the feet, the same blind man had thought the elephant was a stone pillar. So what anybody is saying or writing is often a factor of the personal experience of that individual or what that individual is seeing or feeling at every given moment. By that token, any of the millions of the Johnny-Just-Come Mandela’s admirers  around the world, right now, could be making the same mistake the blind man was making by his totally irreconcilable impressions or characterization of the elephant. My point is that perceptions of Mandela are bound to differ from one person or writer to another depending on which aspect of his life and legacies appeal to them. In my own case the greatest lesson Mandela has taught the world  is really the only point I want to underscore in this tribute.

I listened with awe and amazement to one of such eulogies from a man who knew Mandela the best because they both come from the same country and generation. The man I am talking about is the retired Archbishop Emeritus of Capetown, the great and eloquent Desmond Tutu another icon in South Africa who delivered one of the most powerful funeral orations I have so far heard on Mandela, following the announcement of his death, to the nation and the world by Jacob Zuma, the 3rd President of free South Africa. Mr. Zuma has  followed on the footsteps of Mandela and Thabo Mbeki in that office. Bishop Desmond Tutu described Mandela simply as “the father of South Africa, a world leader and an iconic giant of compassion, magnanimity and reconciliation”. Mandela was ranked in stature with other reputable world leaders around the globe which include icons and avartars of Life like President George Washington (1789-1797), Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) Winston Churchill British Second World War  Prime Minister from 1939- 1945, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945), Harry Truman (1945-1953, Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961), JFK (1961-1963), Ronald Reagan (1981-1989), William Clinton (1993-2001) and of course our own Barack Obama from 2009 till now. The list must include not just politicians but non-political leaders in America and other countries around the world like the UK, France, Germany, Russia, Japan, China, Singapore, India, Pakistan, former Czechoslovakia and many others in the six continents of the world that time will not permit me to mention one by one.

I will be the first to point out that no country has a monopoly of great leaders. The white world who used to look down on colored people as inferior to the white race has been proved wrong by the emergence of Mandela on the world stage. Republicans in America who are hell-bent on de-legitimizing Barack Obama despite his impressive record in office had better take notice that another Mandela was clearly in the making in America and many more are still to come. It should now be crystal clear to the world, white or black, that skin color is no longer a barrier to conquering the human frontier. Given the right climate and education a black or Latino man from some of the remotest part of the world would give their white counterpart a run for their money in intellectual power as clearly proved in America by some distinguished Blacks, Latinos and other minorities who are able to match the whites pound for pound in every area of human endeavor. We are all capable of greatness regardless of our skin color. If there is one overarching lesson Mandela has thought the world, it is that point without any question in my mind.

That Mandela was a child of privilege in South Africa simply means he could easily have sided with the colonial masters and the powers that be in the Apartheid Regime if all he wanted was just comfort for himself and not the greatest good for the great majority of his people. He saw the value of education growing up close to one of the epic centers of poverty around Soweto and he struggled tooth and nail to educate himself becoming a lawyer and using that leverage to free his people from bondage with all the risks involved just like Mahatma Gandhi did in India. Mandela did it despite all the deprivation and solitary confinement he suffered in the hands of his Apartheid oppressors for 27 years in attempt to break his will and spirit. Rather than being broken, Mandela walked out of Robin Island a hero of the South African struggle without any feeling of bitterness towards his oppressors. He emerged with a determination to build a multi -ethnic country where the white and the blacks and the Indians would live side by side in peace and total reconciliation to achieve their full potential. He practiced all of the virtues Martin Luther King had preached or dreamed about. The big difference between Martin Luther King and Mandela was the fact that Mandela has had the good fortune of living long enough to actualize those dreams and to set the best example in selflessness and leadership the world has ever seen. I can see generations of youths all over the world who are inspired by the Mandela mystique to never give up on their convictions no matter the distraction they face. That was surely another lesson to take away from Mandela.

To be a leader you have to be willing and able to follow. Mandela taught the world a lesson on that as well with his relationship with his mentor and leader, the great Oliver Tambo and many of his comrades in arms like the great Walter Sisulu and others who fought with Mandela to finally liberate South Africa with help from the rest of the world. Mandela never failed to acknowledge the contributions of Oliver Tambo as leader of the ANC and the South African Liberation movement. He never failed to acknowledge the inspiration he himself has drawn from other world leaders like Mahatma Ghandhi and Martin Luther King and Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta to mention a few. He was a quick study on how not to overstay his welcome in power. He served only one term as President even though he could easily have remained in power for life if he had wanted to. Unlike Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Mandela knew how to call it quits while the ovation was loudest.

His final burial funeral to be attended on December 15 by no less than 3 former American Presidents and the incumbent traveling together in Air Force One is a first in American history that only a Mandela was capable of bringing about. South Africa is going to be host to no less than 89 Heads of Government. It is going to be the largest number of world leaders, Presidents, Emperors, Kings and Queens who are all going to South Africa to pay Mandela their last respects. The Mandela burial would go down in history as the world’s greatest carnival if you can believe that. Not even the Queen of England or the Pope could match the assemblage of celebrities and royalties to witness the burial of arguably the greatest African of all times.

I want to stress again that Mandela came from a generation of black Freedom fighters like Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Gamel Abdel Nassir, Sekou Toure, Julius Nyerere, Jomo Kenyatta, Oliver Tambo, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Walter Sisulu, Marcus Garvey, Medgar Evers, Ndabaningi Sithole and Thurgood Marshall to mention a few who were blackmailed, vilified and pilloried as terrorists by the white world because of their principled opposition to to racial bigotry. Mandela like Obafemi Awolowo and Kwame Nkrumah issued one of the most profound statements ever made by any leader that “Education is the most potent weapon to change the world.” I see his  leadership genius  and his shining example as his greatest contribution to Mankind. Not even Socrates the world’s greatest teacher could have matched that. Mandela has become a priceless jewel of inestimable value to the black race anywhere in the world.

There are a million things the world may not remember as hinted by Kenny Rogers in one of his once-in-a-life-time country music track, but the contribution of Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela to freedom and reconciliation in South Africa and around the world is one thing the world would never ever forget. Only the Urhobos of Nigeria in their colorful language would have captured the real essence and the true meaning of the Mandela exit from the world of mortals. “Ovie Kpor” the Urhobos would have said meaning “The King has died” In deed he has, and the world would forever live to remember that  until another Mandela in the making makes his debut. As a shoo-in for that honor before I end this statement, it is my honor and privilege to predict and nominate another pride of Africa,  the first black President of the greatest country on Earth and the Land of the Brave, “Isekosala” “Erediauwa” “Ataiyese” Barrack Hussein Obama. So help us God.

I rest my case.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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