PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Joyous crowds of black South Africans celebrated the unveiling of a new Nelson Mandela statue in Pretoria on Monday while many white Afrikaners on the other side of town expressed their worries about the country’s future as they celebrated the 175th anniversary of a bloody victory over the indigenous Zulus.
A new 9 meter (30 feet) statue of Mandela was unveiled in the heart of Pretoria in front of the Union Buildings that used to be the seat of the apartheid government, where Mandela was sworn in as the country’s first democratically elected president 19 years ago.
“One of the things he taught us was to actually talk to our enemies and learn to appreciate things that they’ve done that didn’t directly affect us in a bad way,” said Thando Silimela, 28, expressing appreciation for the impressive hilltop government complex.
“We don’t see it as a hostile building or a building of apartheid; it’s a beautiful building. It’s part of our heritage. We’ve come to peace with a lot of things that have been done. I’m quite proud of South Africa.”
There was a less celebratory mood across town where more than 1,000 Afrikaner people gathered to mark the anniversary of their victory over the Zulus.
Dec. 16 used to be a public holiday under the apartheid regime to commemorate the battle against the Zulus, but it has since been renamed the National Day of Reconciliation.
Most Afrikaners, who dominated the racist minority rule which ended in 1994, have now embraced the end of discrimination. But a minority of the Dutch-descended group remains harshly critical.
The event at the Afrikaner monument attracted many white critics who condemned corruption and expressed the fear the black majority might eventually turn on them. They saw Mandela, who died Dec. 5, as a guarantor of moderate and non-discriminatory policies.
“If the new black leaders were to act like him, would build the society that he envisioned, it would all be good,” said Elizabeth Neethling, a 65-year-old mother of five from Pretoria.
“Nelson Mandela was a good person but nowadays they are all corrupt. I don’t see any future here for my children and grandchildren. It’s hard for them to find work. Now the black people are dominant and doing apartheid to us,” she said.
Neethling was among the Afrikaners gathered on the southern edge of Pretoria to celebrate the anniversary of the 1838 victory carried by some 500 of their forefathers who repeled an attack by over 10,000 Zulus. The Afrikaners won thanks to their firearms, leaving more than 3,000 Zulus dead.
South Africa is a nation of 53 million people, including about 9 percent white citizens, or 4.6 million, according to the government.
The mood was much more festive among the predominantly black crowd of several thousand who came to see the unveiling of the Mandela statue.
“He is embracing the whole nation,” said President Jacob Zuma of the statue showing Mandela with open arms. “He is advancing to the nation to say let us come together, let us unite.”
But the message of unity was lost on many Afrikaners gathered on another hilltop just a few kilometers (miles) away.
“These people will demolish everything that has been established here,” said Anton Lubbe.
“We have our western culture, our values, but they are different. What South Africa was is being abused,” the 80-year-old former professor in veterinary science from Pretoria said.
“If there were more Madibas it would be different,” he said, using Mandela’s clan name.
Celebrities React to Nelson Mandela's Death Via Social Media
40 photos Launch gallery
1. Beyonce Instagrammed this photo with the message: "Thank you for all you have sacrificed to improve the lives of other human beings. Rest in peace."
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2. Beyonce also Instagrammed this photo along with the message: "God Bless"
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3. President Obama Tweeted: President Obama remembers Nelson Mandela: "A man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice."
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4. Rihanna Tweeted: "#NelsonMandela you made your people proud!! We'll always love you for it!"
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5. Rihanna also Instagrammed this photo with the message: One of the greatest men who's ever lived!!! #Legend We will never forget the things this man has taught us, and we will never truly comprehend the level of strength that it took for him to endure many of his years!! Thank you #Mandela.
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6. Queen Latifah Tweeted: "God Bless You Mr. Nelson Mandela! Your Strength, Humanity, Intelligence, Honesty and #TrueGrit are unmatched in my lifetime! RIP&Love."
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7. Jamie Foxx Tweeted: "Thank you for your mark you left on humanity Mr. Mandela. Prayers to his family, friends and the people of South Africa."
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8. Jennifer Lopez Tweeted: "It always seems impossible until it's done." Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela. You will be missed. #trueinspiration #peoplewhochangetheworld."
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9. R. Kelly Tweeted: "To the Mandela family, may God keep you in perfect peace at this time. For God has chosen a soldier. "
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10. Janelle Monae Tweeted: "1 of the most important&greatest individuals to walk on this Earth. Nelson Mandela. He walked the walk. He was 4 THE PEOPLE. Nelson Mandela."
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11. Kerry Washington Instagrammed this photo with the message: "RIP Nelson Mandela. God Bless You."
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12. Khloe Kardashian Tweeted: "An amazing man with great wisdom. Rest in peace Nelson Mandela."
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13. Pitbull Tweeted: "RIP Nelson Mandela. You are now truly free. God Bless and enjoy the heavens. Tell Celia Cruz hello for me and azucaaaaarrrr"
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14. Katie Couric Tweeted: "If people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love." - #NelsonMandela, RIP & may your words live on... "
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15. Ludacris Tweeted: "Honored that I had a chance to meet this amazing influential being & to participate in his 46664 Aids benefit concert in South Africa. You will live on thru your work for eternity. R.I.P. Nelson Mandela."
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16. NeNe Leakes Tweeted: "RIP Nelson Mandela"
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17. Nas tweeted: "Thank you Nelson Mandela. All the best on your transition."
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18. Gwyneth Paltrow Tweeted: "'Your playing small does not serve the world'. #RIPMandela"
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19. Gabourey Sidibe Tweeted: "'The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.' -Nelson Mandela. Thank you for your bravery."
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20. John Legend Tweeted: "What a heroic, beautiful life Mandela lived. Rest in peace."
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21. Samuel L. Jackson Tweeted: "Never met a better person in my life than Nelson Mandela. My sympathy to his family & his country."
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22. Charlize Theron Tweeted: "My thoughts and love go out to the Mandela family. Rest in Peace Madiba. You will be missed, but your impact on this world will live forever"
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23. Diddy Tweeted: "Nelson Mandela has just passed away. Rest In Peace to a true revolutionary and inspiration to the World. He was 95 years old. #RIPMandela."
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24. Diddy also Instagrammed this photo with the message: "This man stood for justice and honor!! Today we lost a beautiful soul, inspiration and a true KING! #RIPMandela."
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25. Kendrick Lamar Tweeted: "Advising all my young ones that follow me to research a small piece of Nelson Mandela Life. That's how you pay your respect...... GO!"
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26. Amerie Tweeted: "Rest in peace to a great, great man. The world thanks you."
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27. Q-Tip Tweeted: "A true fighter in every sense of the word... MANDELA!"
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28. Eva Longoria Tweeted: "Today the world lost one it's greatest leaders. Rest in peace Mandela..."
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29. Russell Simmons Tweeted: "When people are determined they can overcome anything." Nelson Mandela."
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30. Anderson Cooper Tweeted: "Mandela is gone. There is no one else like him."
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31. Brian White Tweeted: "Always remembered! #RoleModel #RIP"
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32. Tyra Banks Tweeted this photo with the message: "He lives within us forever. We will never forget. "
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33. Talib Kweli Tweeted: "Today marks the passing of one of the greatest freedom fighters history has ever known. We love you Nelson Mandela. #ripmadiba."
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34. Wayne Brady Tweeted: "RIP Nelson Mandela. Selfless humanitarian. Leader."
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35. Busta Rhymes Tweeted: "RIP 2 ONE OF OUR LAST TRULY GREAT KINGS AND GOD OF OUR UNIVERSE, THE LATE GREAT NELSON MANDELA!!! I WILL 4EVER LOVE U GREAT MAN & GREAT MIND."
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36. Fergie Tweeted: "Meeting Nelson Mandela at his house in Johannesburg was a truly memorable moment in life for me. He was an angel. "
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37. Omarion Tweeted: "Thank you Mandela #RIPMandela rest in love."
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38. LL Cool J Tweeted: "Nelson Mandela. What a difference one person can make. #RestEternally"
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39. Lindsay Lohan Tweeted: "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination." #RIPNelsonMandela
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40. Luke James: "Thank You Nelson Mandela, Rest In Peace."
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