'The world should live out Madiba's legacy'

Graca Machel spoke at a wreath-laying ceremony for Madiba at the Union Buildings.

Nelson Mandela's widow, Graca Machel speaking at the special remembrance of the struggle icon at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 5 December 2013. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

PRETORIA - Former president Nelson Mandela's widow, Graca Machel, says it's the responsibility of every person in the world to ensure his legacy lives on.

Mandela was elected South Africa's first black president after spending nearly three decades in prison.

He had been receiving treatment for a lung infection since September 2013.

Madiba passed away on this day exactly a year ago.

Machel spoke at a wreath-laying ceremony for Madiba at the Union Buildings this morning.

Dozens of dignitaries including struggle veterans George Bizos and Ahmed Kathrada are attending the proceedings.

Machel says the global icon's legacy is bigger than any entity on the globe and there is no single custodian of that legacy.

"His legacy is in the goodness and the dedication to serve others which exists in every person."

She has thanked the former statesman's colleagues and friends who supported him throughout his life.

"As the Mandela family, we have you as brothers and sisters of Madiba and we lean on you for guidance to show us how we should conduct ourselves."

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

She says the former president is happy because he is now among the ANC veterans who had fallen before him like Water Sisulu and Oliver Tambo.

"I can imagine him tall and proud and walking to embrace them with that contagious smile."

Machel says the thought of Madiba being reunited with previous fallen ANC veterans has provided her with a sense of comfort.

"Knowing that he is happy amongst his own has been what has sustained me."

Kathrada has delivered a tribute to the former struggle icon.


Preparations are underway for today's main commemoration event at Freedom Park, where Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will give an address.

The programme is expected to start the singing of the national anthem led by the South African Police Brass Band.

Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa is expected to introduce the guests.

A keynote address will then be delivered by Ramaphosa after a number of poems are recited to the crowd.


Final preparations are underway at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu, which is hosting the province's official commemoration ceremony.

A persistent drizzle is showing no signs of abating.

But that's doing very little to deter workers who are busy putting the final touches to the official commemoration event in the Eastern Cape.

A large white marquee has been erected next to the museum; inside, several rows of chairs have been placed facing a stage where later several dignitaries will be addressing the crowd.

Among them is Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle.

Some members of the Mandela family are also expected to attend the event.

Tourist, Ginnie Cooper, visiting from the US says Madiba was an inspiration.

"He has inspired so many and it's an honour to be able to be here today."