Several hundred South Africans gathered on Friday for a moonwalking tribute to the King of Pop that reflected the diversity of the rainbow nation.
They were in Johannesburg’s Nelson Mandela Square for one reason: an abiding love for Michael Jackson’s music.
“He’s the king and will always be the king,” said 28-year-old Siviwe Mazwana.
To “Man in the Mirror” and “Smooth Criminal,” dancers of all ages emulated the hip-jutting, crotch-grabbing, moonwalking moves that made Jackson famous. Some had ducked out on lunch breaks from nearby offices, a single white glove the only unbusinesslike part of their outfits. Others came in full Jackson regalia, wearing red satin jackets and punctuating dance moves with a tip of the fedora.
One guitarist performed an acoustic version of “Billie Jean” to an audience of curious school children. Meanwhile, a screaming ring of onlookers watched dancers such as 28-year-old Stacey-Anne Miller, decked out in a white v-neck shirt, fedora and black jeans, do her best impression of Jackson.
“This is the tip of the iceberg, as far as tributes go,” she said, referring to the mass remembrances that have taken place around the globe.
Mpumi Malangabi brought his two children to the event, along with roses and an American flag. Others brought homemade signs, banners and old albums.
Jackson had a history of appealing to racially-mixed audiences here. Many at Friday’s event grew up listening to “Thriller” and practicing the moonwalk through the tumultuous years before the end of apartheid.
In death, Jackson’s music continues to bring people together.
On Friday, when a power failure knocked out the sound to “Black or White,” the crowd didn’t stop singing.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.