Soweto remembers Madiba

Friday, December 5, 2014

Johannesburg - On the anniversary of former President Nelson Mandela’s passing, locals and international visitors flocked to his old Soweto home to remember the world icon.

Hundreds of people gathered outside house number 8115 in Orlando West, Soweto, which remains a popular tourist attraction for visitors to Johannesburg. 

The modest house on the corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane streets was first occupied by Mandela and his first wife Evelyn Ntoko Mase in 1946. He continued to reside there after his second marriage to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela until the time of his arrest. 

The former statesman’s family continued to occupy the house until 1996 when the couple divorced and it was subsequently turned into a public heritage site.

Last year, at the time of Madiba’s passing, Vilakazi street hosted thousands of mourners who came to pay their tributes to the late statesman.

A year after his passing on Friday, people were in a celebratory mood as they posed for pictures outside the house.

Restaurants in Vilakazi Street were also filled to capacity and there were a number of stalls selling memorabilia.

Among the visitors was Communications Deputy Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, who shared her memories of the father of the nation.

“How can I forget his jovial self, the Madiba jive and the humanity he had towards everybody whether you were young or old, learnered or not. The man had inspired a lot of people in our country and abroad,” Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams told SAnews outside the house.

Asked what qualities South Africans need to take from Mandela’s life in order to ensure that they carry his vision and legacy forward, the Deputy Minister said “humanity and selflessness”.

“It was … about the people of this country and Africans in general. Therefore, we need to learn from that and dedicate our lives to the betterment of the lives of people of this country in order to keep his legacy going.”

The challenge, Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams said, was taking forward the policies and vision that Madiba embodied.

“Since he is gone, some people have lost hope. My responsibility, our responsibility is to ensure that we instil hope and say, ‘Tata is not gone. He is our guardian angel and he is looking at us and there to provide the direction we need’.”

Pinky Mncube, Member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, who accompanied Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams, said Madiba taught people lessons of humanity, education, discipline and that great victories are products of hard work. She said South Africa’s youth need to follow in Madiba’s footsteps and carry the country forward. 

Lasting legacy

Many locals and tourist that SAnews spoke to described the experience at Vilakazi street as important in understanding the history of South Africa. They said although Madiba was not physically around, his spirit still continues to fortify every nationality.

“Our obligation to Madiba is to continue to build the society he envisaged, to follow his example of a society founded on human rights,” said Abel Van Dijka, a tourist from the Netherlands.

The visit to Vilakazi street also coincided with the collaboration between the Department of Communications, Mxit and DJ Black Coffee.

DJ Black Coffee, whose real name is Nkosinathi Maphumulo, launched his latest song, which is in line with the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children. It aims to create awareness around the scourge of violence.

The song is available exclusively for free download to the more than 4.9 million users on Mxit.

Asked why Mxit, Black Coffee said it was because it appeals to everybody.

"It targets everybody whether they are old or young. All you need is to download the Black Coffee App on Mixit and get his song for free,” he said.

Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams said social media platforms like Mxit are important in carrying forward government’s programme and messages.

“Mxit also has other important applications… For example, as government we will soon be advertising our vacancies on Mxit,” she said. -