12 December 2013 by Andrea Weiss (words and pictures)

Cape Town bids Mandela farewell: Pictures

They came in their thousands to say goodbye to Madiba at the Cape Town Stadium, where some of South Africa’s finest musicians turned out to pay tribute to the great man in song, words and dance.

The stage in the Cape Town Stadium as the Mandela memorial kicked off

'It is music and dance that makes me feel at peace with the world, and at peace with myself,' Nelson Mandela once said at a live performance of Jonny Clegg's anthem, Asimbonanga ('We have not seen him'), a song about Mandela's time in prison and disappearance from public life.

Had the great man been in Cape Town on Wednesday 11 December 2013, no doubt he would have broken out into his famous jive as musicians, poets and the ordinary people of the city came together to bid him one last goodbye.

It was a magical evening, with South Africa's top musicians performing at the free concert, among them Clegg (who played his famous anthem to Mandela), Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Freshlyground, the Bala Brothers, the Gravity Band and the Heavenly Voices Choir.

Young and old stream into the stadium

Eight-year-old Emihle Felebayi from Khayelitsha came with his mother, Tamara Felebayi.

Emihle Felebayi (8) came to the stadium with his mum

Before the music got under way, rugby hero Francois Pienaar, the former Springbok captain who shared that exceptional moment with Madiba dressed in the No 6 Springbok jersey in 1995 during the Rugby World Cup, drew huge cheers from the crowd. He said Mandela had become 'one team, playing for one country'.

Francois Pienaar on the big screen in the stadium
Pienaar drew rapturous applause

Initially the atmosphere was lively and noisy as some people engaged in an informal toyi-toyi in the central area, and others sang old Struggle songs in the stands. But as the evening wore on, everyone got into the groove and sang and danced along to the music.

An informal toyi-toyi inside the stadium

Many took extra special care with their outfits, this woman having fashioned her entire costume out of the South African flag.

Patriotic dress

Work colleagues from radio station Heart FM Zandi Yawathe (left), Shelley Rodkin and Nathina Gazi came dressed in their matching Madiba T-shirts.

Heart FM employees

Portia Zuzani from the ANC Women's League in Khayelitsha was there with fellow members. She remembers meeting Mandela at a political rally. She asked for his signature but he didn't want to sign at the time so as to avoid a stampede. Instead, he said he would send it to her, and typically kept his promise when one of his staff turned up on her doorstep with his autograph for her.

Portia Zuzani

Then, as the sky began to colour pink, the Bala Brothers, who specialise in 'Popera', an African-inspired style that fuses classical and popular music, were on stage. Their rendition of The Circle of Life took the concert from day to night and created a beautiful, reflective moment.

Mandela's image as the sun starts to set over Cape Town Stadium

When Freshlyground and Ladysmith Black Mambazo took to the stage, the party was on.

Freshlyground on stage after dark

As the evening drew to a close, some members of the crowd began to connect glow sticks into an enormous rope that threaded its way around the stadium, yet another display of unity and cooperation.

The amazing glow-stick rope

For those who were there, it was an extraordinary night and a fitting tribute to the great man who loved music and dance, along with the rest of us.

A view of the crowd

Category: Culture & History, Events

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