Friday, April 18, 2014

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Visitors Line Up At Mandela's Former Home

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Friday marked the final day of viewing of Nelson Mandela's body in the capital of South Africa, but many of those who can't make it there are traveling to Mandela's old neighborhood, which was the scene of many clashes over apartheid. NY1's Dean Meminger reported from South Africa all week and filed the following report.

SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - Nelson Mandela's old home is Soweto has been buzzing with activity all week, as visitors are trying to learn more about his history and the struggle against the former government policy of apartheid, which oppressed blacks and other people of color.

"It's a great honor to see people coming through to pay their last respects to our great father, Papa Mandela," said Jane Monakwuane, the museum's guide.

His old home is now a museum. As the nation continues to mourn the death of Mandela, many from around South Africa and the world are choosing the historic destination to pay their respects.

That includes dozens of South African bikers. Some rode hundreds of miles to get here.

"We all decided to come here together to show our last respects to Tata Madiba," said one biker. "It just shows that bikers have also got hearts."

"As you can see here, Indians, Chinese, blacks, you call them, they're all here riding together," said another. "We having the same message. We want the old man to rest in peace."

This area of Soweto was the scene of many protests as blacks fought for equality. In 1976, students rallied against being taught in Afrikaans, which was the language the government and whites spoke. The students wanted to learn in the language they knew: English. The police responded with weapons.

"The shooting started, Fourth Street, from here, where the student didn't want to learn in Afrikaans," Monakwuane said. "Plus-minus 600 were killed, 12,000 fled the country."

Mandela lived in the house for 15 years before he was arrested and sent to prison for 27 years. He returned to the home after he was released, but he only stayed for 11 days.

Popular South African gospel singer Rebecca Malope attracted a lot of attention during her visit, but she said that Mandela is the star of human rights she looks up to.

"Keep on the legacy, the love, the respect amongst each other, and the thrill of being here and showing that we are Mandela's children," she said. ClientIP: UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP