50,000 celebrate Mandela at Cape Town concert

nelson mandelaAn estimated 50,000 spectators Wednesday night attended Cape Town’s official memorial event for fallen icon Nelson Mandela.

More than 50,000 free tickets were handed out for a glittering concert at the city’s 2010 World Cup stadium.

Mandela’s famous smile was beamed on large screens around the stadium.

Musicians Annie Lennox, Ladysmith Mambazo, Johnny Clegg and Freshlyground were among the artists who thrilled the crowds.

Western Cape premier Helen Zille, who had just returned from Pretoria where she viewed Mandela’s body which is lying in state, told the crowd that he looked at peace.

“His face is at peace. It is a face that must symbolise both in its physical features and its spiritual features everything that we must become as nation,’ she said, adding that his famous smile masked a deep pain “when he sacrificed to bring us freedom and to bring us a constitution that defends us today”.

Former Springbok rugby captain Francois Pienaar, who was a close friend of Mandela, said the world statesman had changed his life.

‘In 1967 I was born into apartheid… 27 years later, as the leader of the Springboks, I had the opportunity to meet the father of the nation. My life changed forever,’ he said.

Notably absent from the festivities was Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whose Cape Town home was burgled on Tuesday while he was addressing the audience at the official Nelson Mandela memorial service in Johannesburg.