News / Africa

Visitors Flock to Johannesburg to Bid Mandela Farewell

Visitors Flock to Johannesburg to Bid Mandela Farewelli
December 10, 2013 12:00 AM
People from across South Africa and beyond are making long journeys to pay their respects to Nelson Mandela, following his death last week. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, the Johannesburg home of the former president and anti-apartheid leader has become a pilgrimage site in a national outpouring of emotion.
Related video by H. Ridgwell
Henry RidgwellPeter Cox
People from across South Africa and beyond are making long journeys to pay their respects to Nelson Mandela, following his death last week. The Johannesburg home of the former president and anti-apartheid leader has become a pilgrimage site in a national outpouring of emotion.
They come to mourn, to lay flowers and light candles; but also to sing, dance and celebrate the life of the man who transformed their nation.
Sibongi Lenobo came by bus from Kwazulu-Natal province on the south coast.

“Me come see Mandela’s house," she said. "Me happy for Mandela, make everything nice.”

Tlha Tlogo and her three sisters had a long road journey, 450 kilometers, across South Africa to get here.

“We come from Pampierstad. It’s a small township in the Northern Cape; it’s about six hours from here," she said. "And we came here just to show our respect to Tata. He’s our father, he’s our grandfather, he’s our first black president. And this is one of the moments in history.”

Tlha and her siblings thought the trip was well worth it and having grieved, they are ready to celebrate.

He was with us for a very long time. Look at the atmosphere right now, it's it's feeling good, it's feeling ok…We are sad, but we are rejoicing as well," she said. "For his life was a blessing and how can you be sad for a blessing?"
The mood here is changing from one of sadness at a nation’s loss to celebration of a life that gave so much to the world.
More and more people are arriving at Nelson Mandela’s former home in the district of Houghton. Among them, his grandson Mandla Mandela, who led a procession through the neighborhood Monday.
As the celebrations of his life grow louder here, across town in Sandton, Nelson Mandela Square has become a quieter place of pilgrimage.
Visitors write tributes to the man who many South Africans say felt like a member of their own family.
Zanele Mbokazi and her son travelled here by taxi from Durban - a journey of nearly 600 kilometers.
“I wanted to come here and pay tribute to Tata Madiba, and for what he did for us," she said. "We are a free country today. We knew that he was old but then his passing just touches everyone.”

For some, a holiday to South Africa has turned into a chance to mourn for a beloved leader.

Bishop Richard K. Thompson, who works with a Methodist church organization in Washington, D.C., was in Johannesburg when Mandela died Thursday.

"What I'm feeling is that we knew this day was coming because he was 95 years old," he said.  "But you never really prepared for it….To see the overflowing love that the people in the country have shown for his leadership, it’s just been an overwhelming experience."
Thompson and his group snapped photos in front of the Mandela statue in Nelson Mandela Square. They were planning to go to FNB Stadium for the memorial ceremony Tuesday, despite being discouraged to do so because of transportation issues.

Thompson, who is African-American, said Mandela was held in high regard in the black community in the United States.

"For us, he has been a champion when it comes to civil rights," he said. "He quotes Martin Luther King, he quotes people who are so dear to our hearts."

Richard Hallward was visiting South Africa from his home in Poland when Mandela’s death was announced.
“Heard the news and first thing we did was come here to Mandela Square, saw the flowers," he said. "It’s important, not just for South Africa but for the world.”
Across South Africa, in the significant places of his extraordinary life, the tributes continue to pile up as the world says goodbye to Nelson Mandela.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Issa Kirarira from: Uganda
December 10, 2013 1:40 AM
He was a man in a true sense of a man in Bakinga saying (Africans).To him and veracity, were undetached .He loved all that Allah (God) created and he viewed a world without reconciliation as a world of fantasy. Nelson Madela commonly known as Madiba, will never be missed if his principle and ideas are held high with esteem. His life was and it will still remain a challenge to the opportunist, arrogant sadist, schemers dishonest, unkind and all those who lead the way of sadness to humanity.

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs