South Africa remembered Nelson Mandela on Friday. The nation observed three minutes of silence in honour of the founding father of the country’s freedom, heralded by the ringing of bells, the blowing of vuvuzelas, the hooting of car horns, for three minutes and seven seconds. His widow, Graca Machel, speaking at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, said, “Madiba is smiling. Madiba is happy. Because he’s among the family he chose to build.” Machel was referring to his deceased comrades in the Struggle. Men like Walter Sisulu and Joe Slovo.
‘I imagine him tall and proud, walking, and all of them raising to receive him, and him beaming, embracing each one of them,” Machel said. “Knowing Madiba he’s in good company, and happy amongst his own, is what has sustained me this year.” Machel said, “We looked at each with love and joy. We walked hand in hand all along our life together. We supported each other, gave energy to each to each other and nourished each other.”
It was a wonderful tribute to an amazing man and a loving relationship.
But research by media monitoring agency Media Tenor reported that coverage of the beloved former president declined in the year since he died globally and also in South Africa.
Researcher at Media Tenor, Ludene Brown, said research shows Mandela continues to be most prominently covered by vernacular TV stations like SABC Zulu/Xhosa and Sotho News, while in comparison, TV stations like SABC Afrikaans and e.tv news generated little coverage on the former statesman. “This displays the impact that Nelson Mandela has had on changing the lives of black South Africans. This is further indicated in the sentiment of the statesman, as he continues to be the only prominent figure that receives positive coverage on SA news,” Brown said.
Media Tenor said what should have been the most commemorative month for Nelson Mandela, as his one year anniversary approached, global media has lost interest in reporting on the former president. South African media positioned itself as the most interested, but was still below the awareness threshold.
“However, with this in mind, the question of whether South Africa is living up to the legacy of Nelson Mandela remains debatable, as an increase in violent crimes and parliamentary chaos dominates SA news,” said Brown.
Media Tenor reported that although the birthday of former president Mandela hiked coverage in July, South African TV media has done little to raise awareness and create a hype on the one year anniversary of Mandela’s death.
What were some of the highlights of the anniversary?
The Nelson Mandela Foundation launched a new exhibition on Thursday night, In Tribute to Nelson Mandela. It also developed an interactive tribute site, asking people from around the world to pay tribute to Mandela, to remember what he meant to them, to honour his ideals and his memory.
And on Friday afternoon, a more light-hearted celebration took place via a sports game, the Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup. The Springboks played the Proteas in a T20 cricket game at Wanderers in Johannesburg. And won. The Boks took the game quite seriously, appointing former Proteas wicketkeeper Mark Boucher as their head coach. “This is a unique challenge, and I’m very excited to be involved with the Springboks,” Boucher said before the match.
“I know the Springboks are not celebrated for their cricketing skills, but it was clear to see early this year in Cape Town that these boys know how to handle a cricket bat and ball. And they certainly don’t lack anything when it comes to being competitive,” he said. Kicking coach and former Bok flyhalf Louis Koen will replace the injured Jean de Villiers in the starting XI. Willem Alberts, who took two wickets with consecutive balls and hit a quick 10 runs off nine balls at Newlands in January, has been named as the Springbok captain in place of De Villiers.
A pledge line to raise funds for the Nelson Mandela Foundation also took place on the day.
eNews Channel Africa dedicated day to Mandela, with special live broadcasts covering South Africa, from Freedom Park to the Union Buildings and to Qunu, where Mandela is buried. The broadcast until 5pm. It includes an exclusive half an hour special interview titled, Remembering Mandela: Zelda La Grange. La Grange was Nelson Mandela’s assistant for 19 years. In her book, Good Morning Mr. Mandela, insight is provided about the influence Madiba had on her life. During a candid conversation with eNCA’s Dan Moyane, she shares stories about moments spent with Madiba. She also reflects on the past year since Madiba’s death and the impact it’s had on the country at large.
The #RememberMandela hashtag trended on Twitter since early morning. South Africa’s City Press has posted a multimedia exhibition of photographs.
The Mail&Guardian created a special supplement, Mandela Remembered, and included a reader-sourced graphic online that asked them, ‘What’s in a legacy?’ Respect and freedom were the words most often used. The story made for fascinating reading, hearing the voices of South Africans.
The Cape Times, the centre of such drama on the day of Mandela’s death last year when former editor Alide Dasnois chose to wrap the newspaper instead of carrying the story on the front page, a year later used a massive photograph above the fold, with the headline The world will stop to honour Madiba, and ran four pages of stories inside the newspaper.
The SABC has packaged a host of Mandela DVDs including the entire funeral service held in Qunu last year.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu honoured his old friend with a plea to South Africans to emulate Mandela. ““Our obligation to Madiba is to continue to build the society he envisaged, to follow his example,” Tutu said, referring to Mandela by his clan name.
“A society founded on human rights, in which all can share in the rich bounty God bestowed on our country. In which all can live in dignity, together. A society of better tomorrows for all,” Tutu said.
Johnny Clegg, to mark the first anniversary of the passing of Nelson Mandela, says the 1987 struggle song, “Asimbonanga”, takes on a new meaning. The Zulu word “Asimbonanga” means, “We have not seen him”, and the song was written to reflect on the fact that Madiba was not visible to South Africans due to the prohibition of the publication of images or depictions of him during his imprisonment.
Today, the phrase implies that the great work he started in binding together a new nation has not yet been completed. It is a call to the new South African generation to find inspiration in his life and work to continue his legacy. Here, Johnny Clegg teaches the song to the future generation and to call upon them to make Madiba’s dream for a thriving, united and democratic South Africa visible.
This video features the winners of the 2014 MySchool Choir competition from Riebeek College Girls’ High in Uitenhage, South Africa.
[Story updated with Media Tenor research.]
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