Feature: People mourning at Mandela residence in Soweto   2013-12-08 08:21:41            

by Nie Yun

JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- South Africans on Saturday streamed to the Mandela residence in Soweto, remembering the passing anti-apartheid icon.

All the roads leading to the Mandela residence in Soweto had been cordoned off with barriers by police, merely letting people walk to their loved shrine instead of driving. On Thursday evening, President Jacob Zuma announced that the former president Nelson Mandela passed away at 20:50.

Soweto is the largest black people inhabited town in Johannesburg with a total population of nearly one million, being globally well-known for its uprisings against the apartheid policies before the democracy was established in 1994.

On Saturday the residence was surrounded by a sea of people who came to pay their respects to the great man. There were many young and old people, including black and white residents.

The Mandela residence in Soweto is a simple small yard with a big house that consists of only four rooms.

"Mandela moved here from his birthplace in the southern province of the Eastern Cape in 1946 with his parents until his arrest and imprisonment in 1962," the guide at the residence told Xinhua.

"He returned here after his release from the prison in 1990, and then moved to other residence in Soweto before finally moving to his present residence in Low Houghton in Johannesburg," added the guide.

Some bullet holes are visible on the wall inside the yard, making people recall the hardship and suffering of his family.

"After Mandela served the prison, the incidents of firing shots at his house occurred at times," said the guide, adding "police even hurled bricks at his house windows instead of protecting his family."

"Mandela had sacrificed the happiness of his family for the national liberation," one Johannesburg teacher told Xinhua.

On the wall of a room, there are two famous words "freedom" and "equality," which were what Mandela strived to win for the nation in the fight against the apartheid.

Showing their love to Mandela, visitors took pictures beside the framed Mandela portrait inside the room.

"Without Mandela, I could not have a chance to receive education at the university," a 19-year-old black girl named Masego told Xinhua.

Her classmate Anna-Marie is a white girl with the same age as her, expressing the same gratitude to Mandela.

"If there was no Mandela, my grandparents and parents might be revenged by black people who suffered greatly due to the rule by the apartheid government, and I could not have good friends from black people," Anna-Marie said to Xinhua.

On the desk beside a bed in one of the Mandela's rooms, a black telephone captured mourners' eyes. "It was from China," the guide said.

As the admirer of the Chinese revolution, Mandela once said to Chinese nationals in Johannesburg in 1999 that he admired the Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, praising the Long March launched by Mao Zedong as a wonder.

Outside the residence many people were full of sorrow over the passing of Mandela, and people were expressing their emotion with the whole bodies.

They were singing, praising Mandela with words "this is Mandela, there who know you, have never seen him."

Some were raising national flags, while others holding up the frames of Mandela pictures.

As the song voices rose in the air, they used the traditional cultural style of rhythmically stomping their feet to show their will and determination.

Tears began to fall from some old black people with deep grief.

A lady from the Eastern Cape told Xinhua, "I was shocked and sad as learned of his passing, because Mandela brought hope for our country."

Beside the residence gate, flowers were laid and candles were lit by mourning people, reflecting their deep love and good prayer to the great statesman.

The bulletin board before the residence became one of where people paid their tributes to Mandela.

"Leader, father, icon, we always love you," one lady wrote, while a man was leaving words "May your soul rest in peace."

The Soweto resident Lebol told Xinhua "Today I come here with my two daughters to mourn Mandela, we are really missing him."

"As Mandela returned to his residence here following being set free from prison in 1990, he was warmly greeted by people, including me," Lebol recalled, adding "at that time, I was a student."

As the spring's sun was sinking in South Africa, many residents were still flocking to the Mandela residence in Soweto.

Mandela was admitted to hospital with the serious recurring lung infection several times in recent years. He suffered from tuberculosis when he was incarcerated for 27 years before the apartheid ended in 1994.

After being discharged from hospital in Pretoria on Sept. 1, he started his final fight against the disease at his home in Johannesburg.

He was the first democratically-elected president in South Africa, having an honor of the state father in the country.

On Friday the South African government announced the Mandela's funeral will be held on Dec. 15.


Preparations in full swing for Mandela's funeral: government

JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- The South African government announced on Saturday that preparations are in full swing for the funeral of former president Nelson Mandela.

Among the arrangements, Mandela's body is being prepared by the Military Health Service of the South African National Defense Force to lie in state at the Union Buildings from Dec. 11 to 13, said Collins Chabane, Minister in the Presidency. Full story

S. Africa to hold Mandela funeral on Dec. 15

JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- The South African government on Friday announced Mandela's funeral will be held on Dec. 15.

The decision came after President Jacob Zuma visited Mandela's family in Johannesburg. Shortly before midnight on Thursday, Zuma announced the 95-year-old anti-apartheid icon passed away at 20:50. Full story

Nelson Mandela has died at age 95

JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Former South African president Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95 Thursday, President Jacob Zuma announced in a televised speech to the nation.

"Our beloved Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding President of our democratic nation has departed," Zuma said. Full story

Editor: Shen Qing
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