JOHANNESBURG — As tens of thousands gathered in a Soweto soccer stadium for a memorial service for the former South African leader, a steady stream of people flowed past Nelson Mandela’s family home in the upscale Houghton neighborhood.
A young woman, Mpho Boloi, led a few dozen people, dancing and singing African National Congress songs and a stirring rendition of the national anthem. She said that she works in a fish and chips restaurant nearby and that she and others “came to pay our respects.”
Logan Naidu, a financial adviser from Durban, also wandered by, dressed in a smart business suit. Naidu, who is a South African of Indian descent, worked for Mobil in Durban in the 1970s. He said he set up an unsegregated social club at the company as an alternative to its all-white club. Later, he became head of the Greenwood Park Ratepayers Association, one of hundreds of affiliates of the United Democratic Front, which led the struggle against apartheid while the ANC was banned.
“If you look at the values [Mandela] espoused, they are all of what human beings should be,” Naidu said, “all captured in one man.”
Naidu’s group went door to door in Indian areas of South Africa, urging people not to support an apartheid-era government effort to give Indians and racially mixed people voting rights, but only in separate chambers. The reform made no provision for black voting. In 1984, the effort was undercut by widespread boycotts by Indian and mixed-race citizens.
Naidu said Mandela’s leadership while imprisoned inspired the 1980s activists, like himself, who helped bring about his release from jail and, eventually, the end of apartheid.
“He says he was part of a collective leadership, but he was the key figure.”
Naidu said he arranged to have work in Johannesburg on Tuesday to see whether he could “get anywhere near Madiba’s house.”
He posed for photos in front of the dancers and stacks of flowers that had been left outside the residence.