Mandela memorial and the speech that made it memorable

Mandela

Got the day off today – it was a generous gesture from the company I work for as they meant for us to use it to either attend the Nelson Mandela Memorial Service prior to his burial this coming Sunday, or at least to watch the live international broadcast on television.

See, I had no intention of braving the cold, wet weather, security clampdown, ill-disciplined ANC supporters, and the transport hassles to get to the stadium where it was being held. Nor did I have any intention of watching a bunch of pompous, disreputable politicians from Africa and around the world, blather on for hours about a man whose principles and values they defile on a daily basis. And I had very well-founded suspicions that the ANC were going to use this honourable event to further party political aims.

And so as I was frittering away time on social media, I saw an update about the Memorial. South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma was being roundly booed by the crowds as he entered the stadium with two of his wives, and then again when his image was shown on large screen televisions. This I had to see…

That was the impetus I needed to entice me to tune in to the live broadcast. And I’m glad I did – while still browsing through Facebook on the side off course.

Jacob Zuma is currently reviled in this country for his scandalous behaviour, many indiscretions and is regarded as a cunning scoundrel by many people. This act of booing was the first such indication that his iniquitous behaviour is more widely detested than I’d previously thought. Social commentary on this act of jeering turned out to be quite profound:

Are we burying two presidents today?

After enduring the announcements of the names of the visiting herds of state from Africa and around the world, constant appeals from the master of ceremonies for the crowds to behave responsibly, and suffering through the shallow speeches of dreary leaders, I was simply in awe of the speech delivered by US President Barack Obama. His was the only tribute that was delivered with a sense of honesty, integrity and articulately. It may perhaps go down in history as one of the great speeches from a leader.

That was also a moment that changed what was an insipid event, into something worth remembering. Up to that point, one had the sense that the whole event was being lead in a certain political direction. And to sum up, one of the comments on Facebook from a Black South African:

Obama should have been our President.

Jacob Zuma’s speech was as expected dull and lifeless. His rendition was equally abysmal. I fail to see how anyone could have been inspired by that load of drivel. He is undeniably an embarrassment and burden to this country. It was indeed a great pity that he had to be the one delivering the keynote address at such an important occasion.

And now onto the state funeral. I fervently hope that our disgraceful politicians don’t further damage our county’s reputation in the week leading up to Mandela’s interment.

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