South Africa Bids Farewell to Winnie Mandela with High Honors
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Pretoria, 14 Apr (PL) South Africa today bid its final farewell to veteran anti-apartheid fighter Winnie Mandela, with a mass funeral ceremony in Johannesburg and a burial reserved for heads of state and government.
The coffin with her remains was moved from Winnie’s residence to nearby Orlando Stadium in the Soweto neighborhood, followed by a procession led by her daughters, grandchildren, sisters and relatives, accompanied by President Cyril Ramaphosa, as well as other leaders and personalities.
At dawn there was a ceremony at the family home, where her body was laid out, a sermon was given and the coffin was covered with the South African flag.
In his eulogy, Ramaphosa stressed that she spoke when others were silent, was able to mobilize and lead South Africans against apartheid when others were forced into exile, had great courage and commitment and was not able to be silenced or frightened by the racial segregation regime, despite all the actions taken against her.
He pointed out that Winnie herself had to heal her wounds for most of her life, although she was always willing to relieve those of her country.
The president pointed out that she was the symbol of the resistance and considered a threat by the apartheid regime, and defied all attempts against her and could not silence or frighten her.
He recalled that Mama Winnie offered leadership in the most difficult times of apartheid without expecting compensation because her conscience and convictions left her no choice but to resist.
The Mother of the Nation died, but she is with us, she lives in the poor, in the workers, in those who are abused…, in the conscience of the apartheid security agents for everything they did to her,” said Ramaphosa.
He wished Winnie an eternal rest in peace after a long career in this life.
The remains of this woman, considered the Mother of the Nation, were taken from the funeral home to her residence on Friday afternoon and thousands of people along the way paid posthumous tribute to her.
Tens of thousands of South Africans filled the Orlando sports facility early in the morning, with the participation of President Ramaphosa and the heads of state of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nhuesso, and of Namibia, Hage Geingob, as well as U.S. human rights activist Jesse Jackson, among many other personalities.
Numerous speeches were made in Mama Winnie’s honor during this mass farewell. These included those by Filike Mbabula on behalf of the African National Congress, Bathabile Dlamini as leader of her Women’s League, the Minister of Energy, Jeff Radebe, representing the family, and the head of the Gauteng province government, David Makhura.
Also speaking was Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters opposition party (EFF), an organization that on Wednesday paid tribute to Winnie with a memorial in the province of Estado Libre.
Her daughters Zindzi and Zenani, her sisters and two grandchildren, one of whom read the obituary, also paid their respects to the crowded audience. They sang in honor of this courageous woman who became the face of South Africa during the years of repression of the apartheid regime.
Her daughter Zenani Dlamini thanked her for the many expressions of pain, affection and support she had received since Winnie’s death on April 2 and said,’I am here to mourn my mother and also to celebrate her life.
Her own was one of the most particular recent stories because she was able to confront one of the most evil regimes of the last century and triumphed,’ she said.
The final tribute to Winnie, which lasted more than four hours, ended with a sermon that gave way to military honors by heads of state and government before the procession headed for Fourways Memorial Park Cemetery in Johannesburg.