JOHANNESBURG — Themba Radebe spun slowly in a circle.
First he pointed his cellphone camera at a group of children chanting Nelson Mandela’s name as they waved posters of the anti-apartheid champion. Then pivoting to his right, Radebe aimed his camera at a swaying group of adults who sang in Zulu while rocking and clapping.
A day after Mandela’s death at 95, South Africans of all colors erupted in song, dance and tears Friday in emotional celebrations of the life of the man who bridged this country’s black-white divide and helped avert a race war.
“I don’t think Mr. Mandela belonged to black people,” said Alex Freilingsdorf, a Toyota executive at a Soweto dealership. “He belonged to South Africa.”
Freilingsdorf and other white South Africans mingled among the hundreds of blacks gathered outside a home where Mandela lived as a young lawyer in the rough and tumble Soweto township.
The mood was simultaneously celebratory and somber at the impromptu street festival where Radebe filmed scenes to share with his family.
“I’m sorry, I’m too emotional. The tears flow too easily,” said the balding 60-year-old, his eyes sparkling with tears as he reflected on how South Africa’s race relations have improved — “not perfect, but much better” — compared with his childhood in the black township.
“This is a celebration of the death, because we knew he was an old man,” Radebe said. “He brought a lot of changes to our community, because I grew up in apartheid. It was a very bad situation.”
At a service in Cape Town, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel laureate like Mandela and himself a monumental figure in the struggle against apartheid, called on South Africa’s 51 million people to embrace the values of unity and democracy that Mandela embodied.
“God, thank you for the gift of Madiba,” Tutu said, using Mandela’s clan name.
“All of us here in many ways amazed the world, a world that was expecting us to be devastated by a racial conflagration,” Tutu said as he recalled how Mandela helped unite South Africa as it dismantled the cruel system of white minority rule, and prepared for all-race elections in 1994.
In those elections, Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison, became South Africa’s first black president.
President Jacob Zuma announced a schedule of ceremonies expected to draw huge numbers of world dignitaries and ordinary mourners.
Mandela’s body is to lie in state from Wednesday through Friday after a memorial service at the same Johannesburg stadium where he made his last public appearance in 2010 at the closing ceremony of the soccer World Cup. He is to be buried in his rural childhood village of Qunu on Dec. 15, after a state funeral.
“We call upon all our people to gather in halls, churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and in their homes for prayer services and meditation, reflecting on the life of Madiba and his contribution to our country and the world,” Zuma said.
The White House said President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama would visit South Africa next week to participate in memorial events, though no precise dates were given.
Funeral plans finalized for former leader
JOHANNESBURG — Themba Radebe spun slowly in a circle.
- Latest news
Moorefield man jailed on felony drug count
KEYSER, W. Va. — A Moorefield man was arrested on various charges Thursday, including a felony drug offense for possession of amphetamines, according to the Keyser Police Department.
City woman charged in domestic call
CUMBERLAND — A city woman was arrested Thursday evening after Cumberland Police investigated a domestic assault complaint in the 100 block of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Arrest made in alleged drug deal
CUMBERLAND — A 25-year-old city man was arrested Thursday night after Cumberland Police observed him allegedly taking part in a drug deal on Columbia Street.
Sheriff warns of scams targeting taxpayers
CUMBERLAND — Allegany County Sheriff Craig Robertson cautioned residents Thursday to be aware of continuing telephone scams that are targeting taxpayers.
Oakland returns to normal after tanker accident
OAKLAND — Nearly 12 hours after a propane tanker overturned in the heart of its business district, the town of Oakland returned to normal early Wednesday night.
New River Gorge bald eagle dies from injuries
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A female bald eagle that nested in the New River Gorge has died from injuries suffered last month when she was hit by a train and later by a vehicle.
10 things to know for today
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:
Park Service opens Canal Classrooms
CUMBERLAND – The National Park Service held a ribbon-cutting event Wednesday for a new program called Canal Classrooms, which will offer students pre-K through fifth grade accredited classwork on the Canal Place grounds.
City, county officials to talk baseball at work session
CUMBERLAND — During today’s Allegany County Commission work session, a proposal to study the possibility of bringing a professional-level baseball team to the area will be vetted again, this time with participants from the city of Cumberland.
Cody Eversole named Kelley Award winner
KEYSER, W.Va. — Keyser High School senior Cody Eversole was named this year’s J. Edward Kelley Award winner during a ceremony Wednesday morning at Potomac State College.
- More Latest news Headlines
- Moorefield man jailed on felony drug count