The boys were at work with me today, and I took them to Sandton City for some lunch. We met my mom there, and before she took the boys home with her, we walked to the Mandela Square to see the flowers.
Yes, I know, we paid our respects already at Mandela’s Houghton house a few days ago… but I did want to see Sandton’s square. It’s been exactly a week since Madiba died, and I’m really not interested in seeing the coffin in Pretoria (I just think it’s fine for the family and close friends to see him like that and grieve like that, but 98% of the people filing past him at the moment are doing it out of curiosity alone and not grief… and I don’t think that’s proper). We didn’t go to the memorial at FNB Stadium, I watched that on TV at the office. I had serious FOMO last night watching the tweets flying out from the Cape Town memorial which looked and sounded way more authentic than what happened in Joburg… there was definitely less drama surrounding that one!
The square felt sad today. I think it’s because the flowers are mostly dying apart from the new fresh flowers and messages around the outside of the tribute area. There were quite a lot of toys that were there…. and in the middle was an olive tree. As my mom pointed out, that was one of the few more sensible things to leave as a tribute… it can stand the weather… I just really hope that someone plants the tree somewhere and that it doesn’t get destroyed. It was very sad to see the orchids that people had left there… they’re sure to die in a day or two.
One person left a ship next to a teddy bear…
Apart from the flowers, the square has cordoned off the statue… you can only get to it if you stand in a queue and wait for your turn to take a photo at it. I suppose I understand the reasoning, but it just made the whole thing feel awful!
I’m glad we went… we saw it. The kids had space to take it in this time… which was very different to the Mandela House experience where it was crowded and you tended to get rushed by people standing behind you. As a result, they read more of the messages, we spoke a lot about the toys being left behind… and then this evening the kids were still talking about what they saw and read about Mandela. This trip meant more to them.