Soweto salutes Nelson Mandela

Qunu, South Africa (PANA) – While the international spotlight was firmly on the funeral of former South African president Nelson Mandela in the foothills of Qunu, where he was raised nearly a century ago, the event was also commemorated in Soweto where he once lived and where the 1976 uprising launched the revolution which eventually toppled the apartheid regime.

Thousands of spectators crammed into the Orlando Stadium, a short distance from the home where Mandela once lived.

On 10 February, 1985, Mandela asked his daughter, Zindzi, to address the nation from the nearby Jabulani Stadium in Soweto. At the time, he was incarcerated in Pollsmoor Prison.

President PW Botha had offered to release him if he renounced violent struggle.

Mandela declined, saying: “I am not prepared to sell the birthright of the people to be free.”

At a rally welcoming him back to Soweto in 1990, his opening words were: "I have come home at last."

There was also a large gathering outside Mandela’s former Soweto home.

Mandela lived in the house on Vilakazi Street, Orlando West, for 16 years from 1946 to 1962.

The street is famous because it housed two Nobel Laureates (Archbishop Desmond Tutu was awarded the Peace Prize in 1985 for his fight against apartheid). After his release from prison in 1990, Mandela returned to the house, despite suggestions from government officials that he find a safer home.

In his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom”, Madiba wrote: "That night I returned with Winnie to No. 8115 in Orlando West. It was only then that I knew in my heart I had left prison. For me No. 8115 was the centre point of my world, the place marked with an X in my mental geography."
-0- PANA CU/MA 15Dec2013

15 december 2013 12:23:37




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