(Reuters/NAN) Thousands of mourners gathered in South Africa’s Soweto township on Saturday to bid farewell to anti-apartheid heroine Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in a funeral ceremony that united the nation as people from various political divides celebrated her life.
Madikizela-Mandela’s death on April 2 at the age of 81 after a long illness was met by an outpouring of emotion across the country, with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and opposition parties holding memorials in remembrance of her courage in the struggle to end white-minority rule.
The official funeral service for the ex-wife of the late Nelson Mandela was taking place on Saturday morning in Soweto , a Johannesburg township at the forefront of the battle against apartheid where she lived.
Mourners sang and cheered as Madikizela-Mandela’s body was brought into the Orlando stadium where the funeral service was taking place.
The 40,000-seater stadium was full to capacity, with many mourners clad in the green and yellow colors of the ANC.
Member of the leftist party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), also attended in large numbers.
“I appreciate many things about her. Even though I didn’t know her in person, we love our mother.
“She represents a fighting spirit because even though she lived through the apartheid era, she never gave up,” 20-year old college student Gift Mokale said.
“I’m very grateful to be here today.”
Also present at the service were South Africa’s former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, as well as foreign dignitaries from Kenya, Namibia and Lesotho.
During Mandela’s 27-year incarceration for his fight against apartheid, Madikizela-Mandela campaigned for his release and for the rights of black South Africans undergoing detention, banishment and arrest.
For many South Africans, the most memorable image of Madikizela-Mandela is her punching the air in a clenched-fist salute as she walked hand-in-hand with Mandela out of Victor Verster prison, near Cape Town, on Feb. 11, 1990.
For husband and wife, it was a crowning moment that led four years later to the end of centuries of white domination when Mandela became South Africa’s first black president.
“Mama Winnie and her spirit must be with us all the time. She means a lot to everyone, old and young,” 72-year old pensioner and ANC member David Mantambo said.
Madikizela-Mandela’s legacy, however, was later tarnished.
As evidence emerged in the dying years of apartheid of the brutality of her Soweto enforcers, known as the “Mandela United Football Club”, some South Africans questioned her ‘Mother of the Nation’ soubriquet.
President Buhari’s comments on Gaddafi twisted for cheap political goals – Presidency
By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja, April 14, 2018(NAN) Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina has said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s comments on former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, on the killings by herdsmen in Nigeria was misinterpreted to score cheap political goals.
Buhari had on Wednesday in London told Archbishop Justin Welby that the farmers/herdsmen clashes were made worse by the influx of armed gunmen from the Sahel region in Nigeria and other parts of West African sub-region.
The president was quoted at the meeting as saying: “The problem is even older than us. It has always been there, but now made worse by the influx of armed gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region. These gunmen were trained and armed by Muammar Gadaffi of Libya.
“When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms. We encountered some of them fighting with Boko Haram. Herdsmen that we used to know carried only sticks and maybe a cutlass to clear the way, but these ones now carry sophisticated weapons.
“The problem is not religious, but sociological and economic. But we are working on solutions.’’
The presidential aide, however, frowned at the way and manner Buhari’s comment was twisted in the social media and some traditional media outfits for political reasons.
He said: “Since President Muhammadu Buhari met with the Archbishop of Canterbury in London on Wednesday, and spoke on the likely impact of gunmen trained by former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, on the killings by herdsmen in Nigeria, some people have virtually flown off the handle, ululating as if wailing was going out of fashion.
“They twisted the meaning of Mr President’s words (yes, some people twist everything, even the words of God; 2 Peter:3, 15,16). They claimed he was blaming Gaddafi, long dead, for the killings in Nigeria.
“But let’s see the vacuousness and intellectual laziness in the twist they have given what President Buhari said, out of sheer malice and evil hearts. Sadly, even a Senator was involved in the sickening display of poisonous heart.