Dancing in Durban for Mandela’s Death

Banner above the steps of City Hall

Yesterday I had the odd but amazing experience of ending up at a hybrid Mandela memorial  ANC rally. Here’s an excerpt from a piece I wrote for www.crikey.com.au:

Durban didn’t react immediately to the death of Nelson Mandela. In the city centre, produce was bought and sold, minibuses roared around corners, men got their hair cut in roadside salons. There were no grieving crowds on the streets. No one had shut down their business or taken the day off. At the city hall, a handful of flowers lay on the steps and officials had set up a small memorial with a book to write messages for Mandela. Few had written in it. Life rolled on, and dealing with its daily realities took precedence over mourning — at least for now.

On Saturday night, hundreds were crammed inside city hall, almost all in the black and green or yellow of the African National Congress. Across the room, I thought I glimpsed another white face but I can’t be sure. From the stage, pastors and politicians delivered an electrifying mix of speeches, sermons and gospel songs. Most were in Zulu, but we could clap and dance and smile. Smiling was what mattered. This was to celebrate Tata Madiba’s life, not mourn his death. Tears were there, of course, but these were women and men inspired to keep building the South Africa of Mandela’s dreams…

[Read more at Crikey… ($ required) ]