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Mandla Mandela assures ANC of SA's bright future

Sapa

Speaking at the Waterkloof base during an ANC ceremony honouring Nelson Mandela, Mandla Mandela has expressed his thoughts on SA's future.

Mandla Mandela. (Reuters)

Watching the public pay homage to former president Nelson Mandela showed the future is bright, his grandson Mandla Mandela said on Saturday.

"For the past three days I have sat with my grandfather while he was lying in state [at the Union Buildings in Pretoria].

"I have witnessed his army. I have witnessed his people. I have witnessed ordinary citizens ... and I can assure the ANC that the future of this country looks bright," Mandla Mandela said at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria during a special ANC ceremony to pay tribute to the global icon.

"There is still a long way to go and we will meet again on freedom day."

Mandla Mandela also recited his grandfather's clan names and gave a royal salute at his coffin, reciting "Aaah! Dalibhunga", the traditional royal greeting, three times.

Mandela: A golden diamond
Earlier, in a move characteristic of his grandfather, he began his address with a joke, telling the audience that when he was nine years old, he believed himself to be very popular because people were always shouting "Amandla" and "Viva Mandela".

He then greeted President Jacob Zuma, former president Thabo Mbeki, the leadership of the ANC, the tripartite alliance, his grandfather's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandla, and widow Graça Machel.

He read the official obituary of his grandfather, who died at his Houghton home in Johannesburg last Thursday, at the age of 95.

Machel at times followed a printed version of the obituary as Mandla Mandela read it.

Madikizela-Mandela sat with her hands on her lap, looking down throughout.

Poet Mzwakhe Mbuli recited a poem in honour of Mandela and other struggle stalwarts.

Mbuli called Mandela a golden diamond that had gone through the fires of time and also thanked the women who had waited for their men during apartheid, trapped in the "dungeons of hell".

'We thank Mama Winnie'
Earlier, South African National Civic Organisation representative Ruth Bhengu thanked both Machel and Madikizela-Mandela, saying "We thank Mama Winnie for the support she gave to Tata. We also want to thank Mama Graça​ for caring for Tata until the end".

Addressing Mandela, Bhengu said: "You have taught us to be responsible citizens ... Those are the things that you taught us Tata and we will carry on where you left off".

South African Communist Party second deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila said Mandela would always be remembered as a revolutionary servant.

Mandela's body will be flown from the base to the Eastern Cape later on Saturday morning. He will be buried in Qunu, where he spent most of his childhood, on Sunday. – Sapa

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