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Saturday, December 7, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Almost immediately after South African
president Jacob Zuma announced Nelson
Mandela s passing, shortly before midnight
on Thursday, hundreds of people gathered
in front of the iconic freedom fighter s home
in Houghton, northeast of Johannesburg,
singing struggle songs and dancing until
The crowd thickened yesterday morning
and up until 9 pm last night was still there,
T&T s High Commissioner to South Africa
Harry Partap told the T&T Guardian from his
residence in Waterkloof, Pretoria.
"Apparently, they had an inkling during the
day he might pass away. They brought flowers
and began to sing struggle songs, and dance,"
"This went on the whole night until morn-
ing. The crowd picked up this morning and
it s around 9 pm and they are still there. The
national orchestra also performed in front of
Mandela s house."
Endorsing the explanation given by South
Africa s Commissioner to T&T Maureen
Modiselle, Partap said it was African culture
at someone s passing not to mourn, but cel-
ebrate the life they lived.
"There is such an outpouring of love for
this man, whom they see as a father figure.
They call him Tata, a fond term for someone
like a father. The people here really like this
man. They will really miss him."
Partap said Mandela, fondly known as Madi-
ba by his countrymen, was born and grew up
in Cunu in the eastern part of Johannesburg
and Zuma announced a state funeral for him
will be held there on December 15.
"Zuma called for a day of prayer and reflec-
tion for Mandela this Sunday and invited all
South Africans, whatever religions they prac-
tised, to have prayers for Mandela."
Partap said the T&T High Commission s
flags will be flown at half-mast until the day
of the funeral. He said Mandela s body will
lie in state from December 11 to 15.
"On December 11, the State will have a
memorial service for Mandela at the FNB Sta-
dium in Soweto. That stadium can accom-
modate 100,000 people and it is expected it
will be packed and overflowing."
Partap said Mandela s extraordinary ability
to forgive stood out.
"The apartheid system (a segregated system
instituted under white rule) was brutal to
Africans. Mandela (when he became president
in 1994) could have said, Let s take revenge,
but he asked for reconciliation.
"He appointed the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission, headed by Bishop Desmond
Tutu, and people who committed offences
during apartheid could have gone to it and
asked for forgiveness and would have been
pardoned. Those who did not want forgiveness
would have had to go to court. It was a beautiful
Asked, based on his time there as High
Commissioner, if he felt there has been true
reconciliation between white and black South
Africans since the end of apartheid or whether
they were still segregated, Partap replied:
"There is really reconciliation in the country.
There is no segregation.
"When you read the western media you get
the impression there is a deep tension between
whites and blacks. I have not seen that."
Partap said whites, who ruled South Africa
under the apartheid system, were now con-
centrating their energies on economic empow-
erment, while blacks were focused on political
power. But blacks were also seeking economic
empowerment, he said.
"White companies are compelled by law to
have partnership with black entrepreneurs.
It s working well."
He said the country s education system has
also been revamped.
A media release from Partap yesterday said
the T&T High Commission in South Africa
had expressed condolences to Mandela s family,
friends, the government and the people on
behalf of this country.
Partap said, "It is for us to keep his values
and principles alive so that never again will
man s inhumanity to man find expression in
the system that Mr Mandela and his comrades
fought and conquered."
T&T envoy caught up in 'euphoria' as...
Children, with placards showing the face of Nelson Mandela and referring to his clan name
"Madiba," march to celebrate his life in the street outside his old house in Soweto,
Johannesburg, South Africa, yesterday. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in
black townships, in upscale, mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural
grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers. AP PHOTO
Ramchand had first suggested this type of cel-
ebration on his Internet blog hours after it was
announced that the South African leader, known
as Madiba by his countrymen, had died at the age
of 95 on Thursday.
He wrote, "It would be fitting and creative for
us to declare a Nelson Mandela Appreciation Day
sometime in January and talk among ourselves and
to our young people about the meaning of Mandela
for us and, automatically, for the world."
His comments led to discussions with others,
many of whom agreed with the suggestion, seeing
it a novel way for the country to celebrate the life
of a man seen as a world icon.
Efforts to reach Ramchand for further comment
were unsuccessful last night as calls to his cellphone
In the Parliament yesterday, Persad-Bissessar
said Mandela is not merely to be deeply admired
and revered, but is to be studied and emulated in
"His pertinent lessons, encompassing so many
spheres of life, must be preserved and taught for
generations," she said.
"Nelson Mandela eschewed being regarded as
an icon, but his sheer greatness places him in a
unique and very selected pantheon of really great
She said, "It is with profound sadness and
respect I rise to place on record the sad passing
of a towering, colossal and beloved world figure."
The PM said she remembered the indescribable
experience of meeting Mandela at the official state
function during his visit to T&T in 2004 and would
forever remember the sheer calm, humility, charisma
and magnetism he exuded.
"South Africa has lost its greatest son," she said.
"The nations throughout the world, including
us in T&T, have lost one of the most powerful and
influential beacons of hope, spirituality and moral
guidance we have been privileged to have had
'South Africa has
lost its greatest son'
From Page A1
An 18-month old baby girl died yesterday after suc-
cumbing to injuries from a car crash on Thursday in
The child and her parents were injured in an accident
after the car in which they were travelling went over
The baby has been identified as Lesley Muir while
her parents have been identified as Marlon Muir and
According to reports, at around 4.45 pm on Thursday,
the car was travelling along the Windward Road, near
Shangi Hill, Studley Park, when it swerved trying to
avoid a cement truck coming in the opposite direction.
The car went over the cliff and landed on the rocky
Lesley was reportedly thrown from the car and respon-
ders retrieved her from the water. She was then rushed
to the Scarborough Hospital where she died. Muir and
McMillian have since been treated and released.
Investigations are continuing
Baby dies in Tobago crash
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