• Latest News

    Thursday, June 20, 2013

    Mandela's Last Resting Place

    It doesn’t look much for a man who had so much influence in world
    Cemetery ... Mandela family graves

    THIS humble patch of overgrowth is destined to be the resting place of a man who changed the face of global politics -Nelson Mandela.
    The anti-apartheid hero — he is known by his clan name Madiba in these parts — appears to be rallying after battling with a persistent lung infection.
    But in his home village of Qunu in South Africa’s remote Eastern Cape, they are preparing to welcome their famous son home for good.
    Hero ... Nelson Mandela

    And Mandela has made it known he wants this to be his final resting place.
    The half-acre Mandela memorial ground is away from the main highway, down a rutted dirt track past grazing cows, goats and chickens.
    To many, he’s the political prisoner-turned-president who cast off the shackles of a ruling white minority’s brutal racism. And as a former president he’s entitled to a lavish state funeral in Pretoria with global dignitaries bowing their heads.
    But for Qunu, it will be goodbye to the boy elders used to call Rolihlahla — the “trouble-maker” — who was christened Nelson by teachers searching for an easier name.
    And for the Xhosa people of the Eastern Cape, it’s tradition to be buried where you are born, alongside your relations.
    Among the headstones there’s Nelson’s father Mphakanyiswa who died in 1931, his mother Nosekeni Fanny, who died in 1967 and there is one for his sister Baliwe, buried in the 1980s when he was languishing in prison.
    But the two most heart-rending graves are for Nelson’s daughter Makaziwe, who died aged nine months, and son Thembekile, killed in a car accident aged 22.
    Hut ... like Mandela family home

    Ray Collins
    They were originally in a cemetery in Soweto, Johannesburg, but Mandela ordered their bodies to be exhumed and re-buried in Qunu in 1998.
    Frail Mandela’s last visit to Qunu was nine months ago.
    Clan member Zimisele Gamakhulu, who met him on that trip, admitted: “No-one knows where his final resting place will be. But in our tradition we come back to where we were born. It is custom for family members to come to speak to their ancestors. It is easier when they are all in one place.
    “When Madiba was released from prison, it was just 60 metres from here in 1991 that he was washed to cleanse himself of bad luck.
    “His mother used to live in a house overlooking the cemetery.
    “It will surprise many if he is not buried here. It does not look much for a man who had so much influence in the world.”
    Mandela had a gated Tuscan-style mansion built on the main road in Qunu on his release from prison.
    When he fell ill last year, he announced he wanted to be back in the village with family and friends.
    Zimisele, 46, said: “It will be a mixture of a Christian and traditional funeral. A cow will be slaughtered, and a priest will preside over the ceremony. His kinsmen — his cousins — will lower the coffin.
    “If it isn’t controlled, there could be hundreds of thousands making a pilgrimage here.
    “Our tradition has it that enough cattle and sheep have to be provided to feed all the guests. It’s going to be hard!”
    Alice Ngcebetshana, 84, will only have to stand on the porch of her simple home to watch any funeral in the adjacent graveyard — a patch certain to become sacred ground.
    She said: “After his mother and father died, what struck me was his dignity and discipline.
    “I’m so proud for what he has achieved in the world, in South Africa — and also in Qunu.
    “When he came out of prison he built his house up the road and insisted all the villagers like him should have electricity and water.
    “He hosted birthdays for the children, and when he returned at Christmas time all the villagers were given groceries. We talked about old times when I went to his house last year.
    “He was frail then, but we haven’t given up on him. Tonight we are all gathering in a house to say our prayers. He’s our son. He hasn’t forgotten us — we will not forget him in his hour of need.”

    Nelson treat
    NELSON Mandela had his spirits lifted yesterday — by cute toddlers singing nursery rhymes outside his hospital.
    Children from Ring-Ting kindergarten belted out a succession of tunes.
    Other school pupils attached balloons and get well cards to the gates of Pretoria Heart Hospital. Mandela is said to be improving but still in a serious condition with a lung infection.

    One message to the anti-apartheid crusader read: “The colour of one’s skin don’t matter no more.” Another added simply: “We need you.” 
    • Blogger Comments
    • Facebook Comments


    Item Reviewed: Mandela's Last Resting Place Rating: 5 Reviewed By: BrandIconImage
    Scroll to Top