Some people at former president Nelson Mandela’s memorial in Johannesburg chatted among themselves while President Jacob Zuma was delivering his tribute on Tuesday.
They seemed more interested in musician Zahara, who was walking across FNB Stadium, in Soweto.
Zuma said that if the apartheid government had its way, people would have been burned for even thinking about Mandela during apartheid.
“Madiba was in the minds of all of us for 27 years… and he inspired us every day,” said Zuma.
“For 27 years, the South African people spoke of him in hushed tones…. He had unique leadership. He started negotiations with the enemy while in prison. He negotiated for the release of his fellow prisoners before his own release.”
His release from Victor Verster Prison was one of the most remarkable moments, said Zuma, adding that the world had come to a standstill.
“This tall and opposing figure walking out. South Africa needed a leader like Mandela.”
When Zuma said Mandela had brought the country out of catastrophe, colourful umbrellas were held up by the crowd at FNB stadium.
“Madiba’s love for peace was also evident in the work he did on the continent.”
He said Mandela had laid a firm foundation for transformation, reconciliation and development.
“He knew that reconciliation without transformation and development was meaningless,” Zuma said.
Mandela had also fought against HIV/Aids, he said.
“Today, Madiba is no more and he leaves behind a nation that loves him dearly…. He leaves a nation which is truly proud to call him an African.”