‘Now dignity will be restored.’ Chiawelo celebrates Ramaphosa’s victory

Poloko Tau
2017-12-18 22:41
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 Ivy Ramaphosa celebrates as her younger brother, Cyril, is named new leader of the ANC. Picture: Poloko Tau/City Press

It was not an easy moment for Ivy Ramaphosa who sprang from her seat as soon as her younger brother was announced as the new leader of the ANC.

Everyone, from those seated on the floor to those standing around in the Ramaphosa lounge in Soweto, had started screaming and dancing.

Tears had started flowing, and the mood had swung from sombre to cheerful in just a few seconds.

Some neighbours from Chiawelo township, where Ramaphosa was born, and relatives rushed to Ivy, who had taken a few steps from the lounge into the dining area.

Ivy struggled to hold back tears. She went from smiling to placing her hand on her mouth in shock before wiping tears off her beaming face.

She hugged those who had surrounded her and the only words that could come out of her mouth repeatedly was: “We won, we won.”

Minutes later, she walked out of the house and was met by a large crowd of singing and dancing community members. Ivy made a quick U-turn inside the house and retreated straight to her bedroom.

“She is overwhelmed. This is too much for her ... give her some time, she will come back,” said a relative, asking the media to allow her to let it sink in that her younger brother could probably become South Africa’s next president in 2019.

Late in the night, Ivy was still inside her room with some relatives; probably still digesting the big news.

Back in Mhlaba Street, it was party time. Chiawelo community gathered outside the house where Ramaphosa grew up and called home more than an hour ahead of the new leadership announcement.

As soon as the announcement was made, they did not wait to hear who would be his deputy or the rest of the top six. They had heard all they wanted to hear and this kicked off the celebration.

From the young to the elderly, they took to the street in song and dance in praise of Ramaphosa.

If there is anything that Ramaphosa should know perhaps is that his neighbours in Chiawelo are vesting their hopes in him to change their lives.

“Jobs are coming; things are going to be much better under Ramaphosa,” screamed one man as he ran down the street.

A local resident of Chiawelo, Elizabeth Maluleke, sat quietly against the Ramaphosa perimeter with two other elderly women. Maluleke said she was among those who went to the local Lutheran Church where they prayed for Ramaphosa’s success in the ANC leadership battle.

“Our prayers have been answered. Our own son will probably become the president of South Africa one day soon,” she said.

“I have known him from his youth days and having seen him playing big roles in the build-up to the new South Africa. We knew he would go far. He is a brilliant businessman and he will now go out there and lead South Africa into prosperity with diligence.”

Another elderly resident, Maria Macheke, who said she was an “ANC member in good standing” said she was hoping the new party president was going to “fix things in our troubled but beloved party”.

“I can now safely say South Africa and the ANC are in good hands. At last we’re going to have a Soweto-born South African president ... I can’t wait for him to restore dignity to our party and the country as a whole,” Macheke said.

Meanwhile, a large part of the street where Ramaphosa had probably played around as a young boy was cordoned off by the police and closed for traffic as celebrations continued. Cars revved, loud music played and community members marched down the street in dance and song.

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