A woman prays at the memorial outside Nelson Mandela’s house in Houghton. Picture: Mandy Wiener/EWN.
One woman knelt down next to the makeshift shrine and has been sobbing and praying in an outpouring of emotion.
Many are bringing their children to share in the atmosphere and to pay their personal respects to the father of the nation.
A father and his two children pay tribute to the late Nelson Mandela outside his home in Houghton on 6 December 2013. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.
Little children have found it easier to speak about how they’re feeling this morning with many fondly recollecting what Tata meant to them.
One little boy says Madiba was like a father to him.
“He freed our country and made it a rainbow nation. I am very sad that he died.”
A Houghton resident, who brought her two little girls to partake in the experience, said South Africa must never forget Mandela’s struggle.
“We are here today to celebrate the loss of not only one of the greatest leaders of our time, but the father of our nation and the grandfather of our kids.”
The crowd has been dancing and singing since last night and are being led in struggle songs, hymns and chants of Mandela’s name which constantly resonates across Houghton.
Scores of people pay their respects to Nelson Mandela outside his Houghton home in Johannesburg on 6 December 2013. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.
Earlier, the crowd broke out into a rendition of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, their fists raised to the sky and erupted into cheer afterwards.
Soweto is buzzing and residents are planning to celebrate Madiba’s life throughout the day.
People have also been gathering outside Madiba’s former Soweto home on the corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane Streets since the early hours of this morning.
They have placed candles and red roses outside the house where Madiba lived for almost 20 years from 1946.
People are paying tribute to Nelson Mandela outside his Soweto house. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN.
People chant outside Nelson Mandela’s Soweto house in Vilakazi Street in tribute. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.
Vilakazi Street has been closed off and locals and tourists are moving around the block singing, dancing and calling everyone to join in.
People singing and dancing on Vilakazi Street in Soweto. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.
Vendors have set up stalls on the side of the road selling Mandela T-shirts, drinks and snacks.
Others have booked tables at nearby restaurants so they can sit and absorb the atmosphere which is set to attract hundreds throughout the day.
A portrait of former President Nelson Mandela is placed outside Madiba’s former home in Soweto. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.
Several cars are parked on the street with their stereos blaring, while people with yellow ANC T-shirts sing and dance in memory of the global icon.
One woman, who has been outside the entire night, said she has come to mourn and celebrate Mandela’s life.
“We are so deeply hurt, we have lost a great man. Mandela was our icon, father, leader and grandfather to our children.”
Mourners have slowly started to gather outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected president in 1994.
Flags are flying at half-mast in his memory.
The South African flag flies at half-mast in Pretoria. Picture: Masego Rahlaga/EWN.
People have also placed flowers near the entrance.
Inside, a black book bearing the government seal has been placed next to a candle where visitors can leave messages of condolence.
The first message reads: “May your soul rest in peace Tata. You have touched us all in a special way.”
The South African flags at Constitution Hill have been lowered to half-mast following an order given by President Zuma last night.
Mandela was held at section 4 of Constitution Hill’s Old Fort Prison where other prominent activists such as Mahatma Gandhi and the students of the 1976 Soweto Uprising were also detained.
It was in this section that many of the prisoners were brutally assaulted by the apartheid police.
Dozens of South Africans passing over the hill are singing along to struggle songs being played over the loudspeakers.
One passer-by raised his fist to salute the former president.
He says it’s sad that Madiba passed on with South African politics in its current state.
“He is a legend of the apartheid struggle. When we look at the current government and what is happening, it’s very sad to see him pass away.”
A group of foreign tourists have also arrived at the site. Officials say all scheduled tours will take place.
Some of the other passers-by say walking through the historical site has evoked more feelings of sadness but also pride for what Madiba did for the country.
Meanwhile, in Johannesburg’s city centre at the Nelson Mandela Bridge, Mandela’s death was met with shock and profound gratitude by ordinary people going to work.
One man said it’s a dark day for the country.
“There are no words to express how you feel inside. He was a great icon and the best man I have ever known.”
Another man said Tata Madiba was a good man.
“He went to jail for 27 years for all of us and still came out a good man.”
Another woman in the area said Mandela was the best leader she had ever known.
“I feel very sad because Mandela was an icon and a fighter.”
Article source: http://ewn.co.za/2013/12/06/What-Madiba-meant-to-South-Africans