News / Africa

South Africans Escape Work to Watch Mandela Memorial

South Africans Escape Work to Watch Mandela Memoriali
X
December 10, 2013 6:07 PM
Millions of South Africans have been glued to their screens watching the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from Johannesburg, Tuesday was not a national holiday - so many people had to try to escape from work to see the ceremony.

Video report by Henry Ridgwell in Johannesburg

As the crowd gathered at FNB Stadium for Tuesday's memorial service for Nelson Mandela, many others in Johannesburg mourned from their places of employment, unable to get away for the ceremony. 

In the eastern section of downtown Johannesburg, along bustling Bree Street, shopkeepers hawked Madiba t-shirts, posters and hats, as well as their usual wares.

But there was no break to attend the memorial service for Mandela, which started just before noon.

Mandla Mcunu kept watch as a security guard for local businesses Tuesday morning.  A native of Estcourt, a small city in the Kwazulu-Natal province, he was a lifelong admirer of Mandela.

"I respect Madiba very well. This is the hero, so I respect him… We're feeling the pain also," said Mcunu.

He stood in a doorway out of a pouring rain, watching passers-by, as vendors on either side of him tried to entice customers.  He wanted to go to the stadium, but work came first.

"I wish, but right now I'm at work.  Maybe I can try talk to my boss and then I can go there," he said.

In the IT Corner, a coffee shop the artsy suburb of Melville, the ceremony was projected onto the wall of the cafe, while a handful of people watched from tables and couches, some looking up from their laptops as they worked.

Forty-year-old Ernest Plaatjies, of Johannesburg, watched on a couch, having taken the day off from working.  He'd grown up under apartheid, watching the struggle for freedom.  While he was in college, he would study at a library downtown, and on his way home he remembers hiding to avoid the violence between factions.

"We had the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party fighting against each other for different things.  And you had to get back to get a cab to get home.  And I had to hide in a drain because of the two parties trying to get their points across.  It was very traumatic," he said.

As he watched Tuesday's ceremony, he reflected on what Mandela meant to him and his country.

“I'm just totally in awe with the whole experience," he said. "For me to see him being put to rest finally, it's epic.  Its just one of those feelings that will forever stay in my memory, you know?  Knowing that I'm part of that kind of history.  So, yeah, I'm moved, happy, sad - goose bumps right now.  But I'm glad I'm a South African in his times."

In Johannesburg, where rain storms typically roll through in short bursts, an uncharacteristic day of heavy rains kept many indoors.  Others braved the wet weather to see the event.

  • People cheer as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the FNB Stadium during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the crowd during a memorial service for Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
  • A man holds a placard with an image of Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium during a national memorial service, Dec. 10, 2013.
  • Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Nelson Mandela's former wife, listens to speeches during his memorial service at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
  • A portrait of Nelson Mandela is seen through a sea of umbrellas during his memorial service at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
  • Actress Charlize Theron speaks with musician Bono before the memorial service for Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
  • People sing and dance as they arrive for the memorial service for Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
Martin Macube stood under an umbrella in Nelson Mandela Square in the northern suburb of Sandton, watching U.S. President Barack Obama speak.

Watching world leaders pay tribute to Mandela was a point of pride for the Johannesburg native.

“This man was the greatest man ever in the world.  Hence we are standing here in Madiba Square, as you can see his statue is there.  We are here and we are proud to be called South Africans,” he said.

Thaba Thlala spent his mid-day break taking in the memorial service in Nelson Mandela Square.

“I’m on lunch. I haven’t eaten. I just came here to watch this ceremony," he said. "I just wish they would release me so I can go to the stadium.  But I guess I have to work.  I have to feed my family.  But this one hour means a lot to me.”

Despite such moments of mourning, South Africa's work day went on.

Mandela's body will lie in state Wednesday through Friday at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.  He will be laid to rest in his rural ancestral home in Qunu.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid