When Cape Town mourned for Nelson Mandela1 min read . Updated: 06 Dec 2013, 09:21 PM IST
The mood in Cape Town is sombre but accepting
Cape Town: Nelson Mandela wrote this: “Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity."
In Cape Town on Friday, there is both a resolute acceptance and a mournful denial of Madiba’s words.
In the city centre, people are reciting his speeches on the streets. Local bands are singing the Shosholoza, a folk song Mandela popularized during the apartheid struggle. One person on Park Road was handing out black badges, telling commuters to “remember his dream". Those who wore the badge were given frequent salutes of solidarity.
The mood here is mournful—a deep, piercing sadness at the loss of someone so beloved. But it’s also a moment of resolute determination. A reaffirmation of what he believed in, and stood for. A celebration of his legacy, and a dedication to build on his dream for the nation.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu led a rousing mass at the St. George’s cathedral, telling the gathering: “Let us give him the gift of a South Africa united."
A large interfaith ceremony honouring his life is due to be held later on Friday at the Grand Parade, Cape Town’s largest public square. The city government has announced free transport for anyone wishing to attend, and trains into Cape Town are free in the hours before the event. Twitter feeds for local magazines, blogs and residents are scrolling constantly, with announcements for tributes, memorials and lectures.
Remembrance books and flower arrangements can be found all along Government Ave, close to the City Hall (where the flags are at half mast), and along the Grand Parade.
The ‘rainbow’ nation is in sombre monochrome today, united in saying ‘go well’ to a beloved leader, icon and friend. In Zulu: ‘Hamba Kahle, Madiba.’
Krish Raghav is a researcher and journalist based in Singapore who is currently in Cape Town, South Africa.