Mourners pouring in at Vilakazi Street

The old house of former President Nelson Mandela on Vilakazi Street is reverberating with the sound of struggle songs from a large crowd, who have gathered to pay tribute to the late 95-year-old statesman.

The group, comprising mostly African National Congress (ANC) members, chanted songs as a way of remembering Mandela’s immense contribution to the liberation struggle of South Africa.

South Africa’s first democratically elected President Mandela died on Thursday night at his Houghton home in Johannesburg.

As the crowd is moving up and down Vilakazi Street singing and dancing, South Africans from all walks of life continue to arrive in their numbers to lay flowers outside Mandela’s old house, which is now a museum.

Chairperson of the African National Congress Young Women’s League in Johannesburg, Thandeka Shongwe, said: “I haven’t slept since I received the sad news last night and I am here to pay tribute to the father of our democracy, the father who instilled morality in us to think beyond our colour.

“A legend has fallen, therefore he has made vibrations – not only here in South Africa, but across the globe. He left the legacy of forgiveness and I will remember him for his legendary ideology of democracy.

“I will remember Madiba as a selfless leader, who sacrificed his time with his family. He … chose to be the father of the nation.

“I will also remember Madiba as a leader who believed in justice, a leader who believe in forgiving. So as a nation, we should remember Madiba as a father of our democracy, a peacemaker,” she said.

Lerato Hlabangane, from the Freedom Charter branch in Kliptown, Soweto, said: “To me, Madiba hasn’t passed on, he’s not dead. He still lives in me in the sense that should I choose to say that he’s gone, it would mean that everything he stood and fought for is gone as well.”

Member of the mayoral committee responsible for transport in the City of Johannesburg, Rehanna Moosajee, was part of the group singing liberation songs.

“I was in the North West when I heard that tata Madiba is no more and immediately hit the road to come straight here. But the best way to remember Mandela is to keep alive his dream of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa,” said Moosajee.

A large media contingent of both South African and international reporters has already set up cameras along the street.

Mandela four-room house

The four-room Mandela house also stands as a monument, reminding the nation of the power of reconciliation and nation building, despite its unhappy past.

The house is also situated next to Desmond Tutu’s house in Vilakazi Street as well as Regina Mundi church and Morris Isaacson High School where the 1976 student uprising began.

All this makes Orlando West a significant precinct that people should visit in order to understand the history of the anti-apartheid movement. – 033

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