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SA celebrates Madiba during live funeral broadcast

Sapa

Thousands around the country applauded former president Nelson Mandela during live broadcasts of his state funeral in Qunu.

Thousands applaud Mandela during live broadcast of state funeral in Cape Town. (Reuters)

People at Orlando Stadium in Soweto waved flags and pictures of former president Nelson Mandela as they watched on a big screen as his coffin was carried out of the funeral venue in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, on Sunday. Every eye was glued to the screen. Some people whistled. Others sang "Nelson Mandela ... a hona ya tshwanang le ena. (There is no one like Nelson Mandela)".

A few minutes after silently watching images of Mandela's coffin leaving the funeral venue in Qunu, the crowd broke into shouts of praise. Jumping to their feet and stomping in unison they praised Mandela in song. Everyone moved to one section of the stadium, and even officials joined in. Some people waved flags and pictures of the former president. As most eyes were glued to the screen, some people whistled and others sang.

Good for business

Food vendors at Orlando Stadium were pleased with the crowd that turned out for the live screening of  Mandela's state funeral. They said the atmosphere was good for business compared to the day of the memorial service, on Tuesday, when it rained.

Dudu Mthombeni's stall had several customers in front of it. She was selling pap, meat and salads for R30 a plate. "This is much better than last week. It seems my investment today will be worth it," she said while attending to a customer.

Cold drinks, bottled water, ice cream and snacks sold rapidly as more people arrived after 11am. Sections of the crowd kept breaking into struggle songs next to the stadium entrance. Police and marshals kept an eye on the mourners.

Cape Town roars with applause

Loud applause and the sound of vuvuzelas rang out when Capetonians saw Mandela's coffin being wheeled to his burial site on big screens in town. More than a thousand people waved their hands in the air, clapped, waved their flags and ululated at the sight of the coffin draped in the national flag after Mandela's funeral service in Qunu.

A group dressed in the colours of the large green, yellow and red Cameroon national flag they were carrying, beat their drums and started singing. They chanted "Tata", a fond nickname for Mandela as a father. The crowd also went wild whenever two old women were shown walking slowly in the procession.

Last respects at Parliament

People continued to trickle into the parliamentary precinct on Sunday to pay their last respects to Mandela by writing messages in books of condolence. A handful stayed to watch the funeral service live broadcast, while sitting on the steps of the National Assembly.

Librarians Noxy Gaba and Thembela Vellem were among those who stayed. "I did not want to watch it on television. It's not like I'm watching the Bold and the Beautiful. I wanted this day to be special to me as well," Vellem said.

"Madiba is very special. He opened doors that no one else could." Gaba worked in Parliament's library from 1998 to 2005, and fondly remembers Mandela greeting her and others when they met in the lifts. "There was just this peace around him and this thing of wanting to go and hug him and at the same time respecting him. You don't know what to do when you see him," Gaba said. She was not sad, and felt it was a time to celebrate Mandela's life.

Capetonian Eduard Bantjes was in a more sombre mood when he walked past the big screen to write a message of condolence on a white canvas along Parliament Street. Bantjes starting sobbing, before managing to say: "It's a very sad day for South Africa, because we'll never see a leader like this in our country again and we owe Madiba so much."

Sadness in Mvezo

The funeral of Mandela on Sunday was sad to watch for villagers at Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape, where he was born. "It was very painful to watch," Matuna Matuna said. "It brought back memories of all the things he did. The man fought for us. We are free, thanks to him," he said.

Locals came to watch a broadcast of the funeral, which took place at Qunu, about 22km away, where Mandela spent much of his childhood. A big screen was set up at the soccer field in the village. David Martin and his wife drove more than 45km from Bomvana village to Mvezo to pay their last respects. The couple also drove to Pretoria to see Mandela's body.  

"We were fortunate to see him lying in state and it brought home that he was gone. That was saying goodbye. Here we feel a bit removed," Martin said. Despite feeling as if the locals had not been given an opportunity to see the body and attend the funeral, he understood why things turned out the way they had. "It was a bit unrealistic to believe the funeral would be done traditionally because Madiba is a man of the world.

"It is important for us to know he was a leader of the international community," he said.

He said the pain the family was feeling was felt throughout the world. The funeral symbolised the unity for which Mandela fought. "What was significant is to see an army of different races carrying his casket and burying him. [It is] symbolic of the last 20 years and we are seeing the rewards of his sacrifices," he said. – Sapa

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