SOWETO, South Africa: Thousands of mourners gathered in South Africa’s Soweto township on Saturday to bid farewell to anti-apartheid heroine Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in a funeral ceremony that united the nation as people from various political divides celebrated her life, reports Reuters.
Madikizela-Mandela’s death on April 2 at the age of 81 after a long illness was met by an outpouring of emotion across the country, with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and opposition parties holding memorials in remembrance of her courage in the struggle to end white-minority rule.
The official funeral service for the ex-wife of the late Nelson Mandela was taking place on Saturday morning in Soweto — a Johannesburg township at the forefront of the battle against apartheid where she lived.
The burial ceremony will take place later in the day, ending a nearly 2-week mourning period declared by the government.
Mourners sang and cheered as Madikizela-Mandela’s body was brought into the Orlando stadium where the funeral service was taking place.
The 40,000-seater stadium was full to capacity, with many mourners clad in the green and yellow colors of the ANC. Member of the leftist party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), also attended in large numbers.
“I appreciate many things about her. Even though I didn’t know her in person, we love our mother. She represents a fighting spirit because even though she lived through the apartheid era, she never gave up,” 20-year old college student Gift Mokale said. “I’m very grateful to be here today.”
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