South Africans gather to pay their respects at Mandela's home

Tears and song flowed as mourners – many in pajamas, carrying children – went to Nelson Mandela's house after news broke of his passing. 

Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
People chant slogans outside the house of former South African President Nelson Mandela after news of his death in Houghton, Friday.

As rumors of the passing of Nelson Mandela began to circulate on Twitter, South Africans from all walks of life began to do what came most naturally: arrive at his home in Johannesburg.

The crowd, gathered on the grassy curb and the street beyond Mandela's house, quieted as people learned that President Jacob Zuma was making a televised announcement. Journalists began to pack around cellphones, straining to hear the president through tinny speakers. A few people continued to talk, but were hushed by those yearning to catch Mr. Zuma's words.

Zuma praised the man South Africans know by his clan name – Madiba  – before saying the news that so many dreaded.

"We saw in him what we sought in ourselves. We bid him farewell," Zuma said. 

A sharp intake of breath passed through the crowd, and tears started to flow. Ordinary South Africans, drawn to the last moments of the man who brought a democratic South Africa into existence, mourned together. Some of the hundreds in attendance wore soccer uniforms. Others came in suits on their way home from the office. Many arrived from the neighboring houses wearing bathrobes.

One woman dressed in a bathrobe shed tears as she held her two small children close to her. An hour after the announcement, some people were quietly singing in Zulu, "Nelson Mandela. There will never be another one like you," and "comrade, go well, comrade." The air was occasionally punctuated with cries of "Viva, Nelson Mandela! Viva!"

People - dozens of local and international journalists and hundreds of ordinary South Africans - were standing on the grassy curb and fill the streets beyond.  Another young woman, Khadijah Kathrada, wept as she held her infant son.

"Heartbroken. Sad," she says. "Like something big in my life has been taken away. Like I lost my father."

"We are here because of him. He is the reason for our freedom."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to South Africans gather to pay their respects at Mandela's home
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/2013/1205/South-Africans-gather-to-pay-their-respects-at-Mandela-s-home
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe