SABC News - An atmosphere of celebration at FNB stadium:Tuesday 10 December 2013

An atmosphere of celebration at FNB stadium

Tuesday 10 December 2013 08:27

Tshepo Tshoele.

Colour abound as the world celebrates an icon's life.(SABC)

The FNB stadium has come alive with colour, song, dance and cheer as South Africans gather for Tuesday’s memorial service for former president Nelson Mandela.

Just like there was never a dull moment in Mandela’s life, such is the case with the mood at the stadium. The rain has not had an impact on attendance, with people saying it does not deter them from the day’s core event. Many see it as a blessing, as is the case in African culture.

Shaheem Ismail hails from Westbury. He’s a staunch Ajax Cape Town supporter, but more of a Mandela fanatic. Donned in regalia that shouts Mandela from head to toe, he says he’s here to celebrate the life of a legend. Shaheem stresses the importance to pay our respect to Mandela, “even in his death.” He maintains that it is a must for the world to honour him.

In Westbury, Shaheem is part of a church foundation that works hand in hand with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in effort to develop youth from an early age.

With regards to his outfit, he says he designed it himself and that he has designed several others in Mandela’s honour.

Sifting through the crowds, Big Fish, Neli and Itu say they have been at the stadium since 3am. They believe Mandela’s values will stay behind for generations to come. Just like thousand others, they are here to pay their last respects, saying an event like this will show the type of unity that Mandela stood for.

The morning has been eventful and promises lots as crowds find their seats in anticipation for the day’s official programme set to start at 11am. In Shaheem’s words, “It’s time we open our books and start learning more about what Mandela stood for.”

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