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PHOTOS | Soccer atmosphere rings through Orlando Stadium as thousands celebrate Madikizela-Mandela

A festive soccer atmosphere filled Orlando Stadium on Wednesday as thousands streamed into the venue for the official memorial service of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Roads leading into the stadium have all been closed with just buses from Nasrec and officials being allowed into the stadium precinct.

Dressed in political party colours the mourners have begun packing the home ground of the Orlando Pirates soccer team. Just opposite the big stage‚ the singing crowd resembled the Buccaneers enjoying a two-goal lead.

The crowd burst into song with Asiphelelanga‚ shod’ uWinnie akekho lana‚ meaning: “Winnie is missing‚ not all of us are here today.”

Among those present is Bishop Mosa Sono of Grace Bible Church in Soweto‚ who shared his experiences with the Mother of the Nation.

“We have met with Mama Winnie at different occasions… The last time I was with her was when it was a prayer service organised by Patrice Motsepe at FNB... What strikes me with her is that she had a way of knowing people and loving people‚” said Sono.

“She had seen me when I started as a pastor. She would always give me advice and find something to encourage you with. She really is someone that makes us think about our purpose in life. She lived for a mission‚ to fulfil her vision with a consciousness of truth and justice.” He added that the generation that is left behind must ask itself very difficult questions about their assignment in life.

“In all history there will always be the change of an era. I think it is the passing on of the baton to the next generation. But for me‚ the bigger question I’m asking is … have we learned from our leaders who had such strong ethical leadership and a sense of mission and commitment? As they are passing on‚ will we carry on their legacy?”

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