NEWS
12/04/2018 05:58 SAST | Updated 12/04/2018 06:01 SAST

South Africa Celebrates Winnie's Life Through Song And Dance

Orlando Stadium in Soweto accommodated thousands of people from far and wide who wanted to pay their respects to the late struggle icon.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's memorial service was a celebration and not a mourning. Orlando Stadium in Soweto accommodated thousands of people from far and wide who wanted to pay their respects to the late struggle icon.

Swedish-born Maria Malepa was one of the many people who say that Madikizela-Mandela played an important role in shaping the lives of South Africans.

"I live in Soweto; I [moved] here 10 years ago – obviously not knowing lot about the liberation struggle, but I have learnt and seen with my own eyes in the very neighbourhood that I live – she has been part of change for so many people," she said.

Malepa added: "She is the reason that someone like me can come and live in Soweto today and raise kids here today – there are so many things that she has impacted in my life that I would never have thought."

"It takes someone special to sacrifice their lives the way you have done... we salute you" – David Mabuza, Deputy President of South Africa

There were marquees outside the venue, where vendors were selling ANC merchandise. The most popular item on sale was the doek – a symbol that has been related to the liberation fighter since her death last week Monday.

As thousands of people came flocking in, the echo from Orlando Stadium became louder. People sang and danced merrily to gospel music. The first performances were by afro-soul singer Brenda Mtambo and the Grammy award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir, which kept the crowd on their feet.

Government ministers swapped their suits for party regalia. Minister in the Presidency and leader of the ANC Women's League Bathabile Dlamini was present, as well as Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

Heartfelt tributes were delivered by family and friends, who commended Mam' Winnie for her motherly attributes. An emotional Zodwa Zwane paid tribute to Madikizela-Mandela, saying she will be missed by her children. She was Madikizela-Mandela's personal assistant and close confidant.

Deputy President David Mabuza also addressed the crowd, saying Madikizela-Mandela was a selfless comrade of the liberation struggle. "It takes someone special to sacrifice their lives the way you have done... we salute you," Mabuza said.