- A crowd of mourners gathered at the University of Johannesburg in Soweto to pay tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
- Mourners celebrated Mama Winnie’s legacy by singing and dancing, something the fallen icon would have loved
- The event was marred by a near stampede at the start and by the crowd rejecting a song which referred to Jacob Zuma
On Monday, a crowd of mourners gathered at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus to pay tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who passed away last Monday at the age of 81.
The memorial service got off to a somewhat rocky start when there was a near stampede at the entrance to the hall. The start of the event was delayed by an hour and once it got underway the crowd immediately ordered the music to be stopped.
The crowd rose to their feet and protested the choice of song which had been playing. The Zulu struggle song, Sivotela Unxamalala, means “We vote for Nxamalala, which is Zuma’s clan name was duly cut.
Briefly.co.za gathered that after these interruptions the crowd honoured Mama Winnie’s legacy in a way which would have resonated with her. Winnie’s life and achievements were celebrated in song and dance.
As the singing continued, pictures of the life and times of Winnie were projected onto a screen in the hall. Winnie is considered the mother of the nation and still serves as a beacon of hope to millions of South Africans.
Former president Jacob Zuma is not the only high-profile former ANC leader to earn the ire of frustrated ANC members. Former president Thabo Mbeki has been criticised for calling Winnie a populist and saying she should be remembered as a whole and not as an individual.
Former police minister Fikile Mbalula defended Mbeki and said even in politics respect is important. He then gave his own view of Winnie.
“The person we are bidding farewell to was a giant, she was gigantic, she was a boomerang, she was a titanic,” said Mbalula.
“It’s painful to have lost Mama Winnie. We’ve lost not only a political leader but also a religious leader. That’s why we sacrificed everything to be here today. We know the role Mama Winnie played in all our lives,” the Holy Christian Church’s Bishop Samuel Mathikga said.
Winnie will be laid to rest on Saturday.
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