'Mandela will continue to be guiding light for S.Africans'

Cyril Ramaphosa said the former president represents the nation’s desire for a better future.

Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu in the Eastern Cape. Picture: Siyabonga Sesant/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Acting President Cyril Ramaphosa says Nelson Mandela will continue to be a guiding light for South Africans but the nation must work at remaining united.

He was speaking at the one year commemoration of Madiba's death at Freedom Park in Pretoria.

Earlier, wreathes were placed at a statue of the late former president at the Union Buildings.

Ramaphosa said South Africa was plunged into a period of mourning and sadness but despite this feeling of loss, the nation gathered its strength to celebrate Mandela's life.

He said the former president represents the nation's desire for a better future.

He said Mandela led South Africa on a road to reconciliation and in death, has shown the country the way to unity and nationhood.

Earlier, Mandela's old friend George Bizos described him as the father of the Constitution.

He said Mandela wanted a Constitution that was good for the whole of South Africa and not just for the African National Congress.

His grandson Mandla Mandela also paid tribute saying Madiba will forever be remembered through everything that is good about South Africa.

"We shall remember you in the song and dance of the youth, in the undying hope of our mothers, in the fighting spirit of our fathers and in the wisdom and tales of the elders."

[WATCH] A 13 minute documentary of Mandela's life provided by the Nelson Mandela Foundation.


Mandela's widow Graca Machel has urged the country to carry on his legacy.

She spoke during a wreathe-laying ceremony at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Machel said Mandela gave South Africans the gift of acceptance of one another.

"We have a common history and we have a common destiny. We are bound to live together. We have to learn to accept one another as part of the big body which is the nation."

She said South Africans have a long way to go to overcome prejudice but it is up to us to change this.

"It is in the hands of each one of us to take what is your stake to close the divisions which are still within us."

Machel said she's confident that wherever Madiba is now, he is happy and has a smile on his face.

"I can imagine him, tall and proud, walking, and all of them raising to receive him and him beaming in his contagious smile, embracing each one of them."