JOHANNESBURG – Themba Radebe spun slowly in a circle.
First he pointed his cellphone camera at a group of children chanting Nelson Mandela’s name as they waved posters of the anti-apartheid champion. Then, pivoting to his right, Radebe aimed his camera at a swaying group of adults who sang in Zulu while rocking and clapping.
A day after Mandela’s death at 95, South Africans of all colors erupted in song, dance and tears Friday in emotional celebrations of the life of the man who bridged this country’s black-white divide and helped avert a race war.
“I don’t think Mr. Mandela belonged to black people,” said Alex Freilingsdorf, a Toyota executive at a Soweto dealership. “He belonged to South Africa.”
Freilingsdorf and other white South Africans mingled among the hundreds of blacks gathered outside a home where Mandela lived as a young lawyer in the rough- and-tumble Soweto township.
The mood was simultaneously celebratory and somber at the impromptu street festival where Radebe filmed scenes to share with his family.
At a service in Cape Town, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel laureate like Mandela and himself a monumental figure in the struggle against apartheid, called on South Africa’s 51 million people to embrace the values of unity and democracy that Mandela embodied.
“God, thank you for the gift of Madiba,” Tutu said, using Mandela’s clan name.
President Jacob Zuma announced a schedule of ceremonies expected to draw huge numbers of world dignitaries and ordinary mourners.
Mandela’s body is to lie in state from Wednesday through Friday after a memorial service at the same Johannesburg stadium where he made his last public appearance in 2010 at the closing ceremony of the soccer World Cup. He is to be buried in his rural childhood village of Qunu on Dec. 15 after a state funeral.
“We call upon all our people to gather in halls, churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and in their homes for prayer services and meditation, reflecting on the life of Madiba and his contribution to our country and the world,” Zuma said.
The White House said President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama would visit South Africa next week to participate in memorial events, though no precise dates were given.
In Mandela’s hometown of Qunu in the wide-open spaces of Eastern Cape province, residents consoled each other as they mourned the death of South Africa’s most famous citizen.
On Vilakazi Street in Soweto, where Mandela lived as a young man, Vathiswa Nongogo, 26, brought her daughter Konwabo, 3, to soak in the celebratory atmosphere.
The crowd was mostly black, but mourners both white and black said Mandela transcended race.
“The feeling is genuinely the same among the white people and the colors,” said Nongogo, who is black. “And the political division doesn’t appear to exist today.”
The late leader’s grandson, Mandla Mandela, said he was strengthened by knowing that his grandfather is at rest.
“All that I can do is thank God that I had a grandfather who loved and guided all of us in the family,” Mandla Mandela said in a statement. “The best lesson that he taught all of us was the need for us to be prepared to be of service to our people.”