A Madiba Memorial

Photos & text by Brian Covert


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Following the passing of former South African president Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela, memorial services were held in cities around the world to commemorate the life of the man South Africans affectionately call Madiba.


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One such service for Mandela was held in the Japanese city of Osaka on Monday, December 23, 2013 at the Osaka Johnan Christ Church.


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Event organizer Keiji Shimogaki, head of a local grassroots group, opens the event with words of welcome to the audience.


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The formal service begins with a reading of passages from the Christian Bible by "Poundcake" Harada, pastor of the church.


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An estimated 100 people, both from the Japanese and foreign-resident communities (including South Africans living in Japan), attended the afternoon event.


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Attendees express their final wishes for Mandela in guest books, which are to be given later to the South African ambassador in Tokyo.


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Joseph Nkosi (left), a South African living in Japan, and partner Tomomi Kawabe perform on marimbas as event organizers look on.


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Guest speakers included an ex-staffer of the African National Congress (ANC) Tokyo office, Naoko Tsuyama.


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A Japanese choral group performs a few socially conscious songs for the audience during the memorial service for Mandela.


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The choral group members raise their fists in solidarity as they sing.


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Nkosi leads the audience in singing the South African national anthem, which includes the former liberation song "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika".


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For the grand finale, Nkosi and his partner chant and jam on marimbas, bringing all the church audience members to their feet.


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The celebratory mood rises as the audience members snake their way around the church pews, dancing, clapping and singing along.


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The service ends on a joyous note several hours after it began, a true tribute to the extraordinary life and legacy of perhaps the greatest statesman of our time.


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Nelson Mandela — Tata Madiba
1918 - 2013

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