Vil­lage braces for Man­dela fu­neral

Fi­nal good­bye comes with ma­jor chal­lenges for tiny Qunu

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - News - KIERON MONKS Metro World News

The pop­u­la­tion of Qunu is just un­der 300, but a mass in­va­sion is un­der­way ahead of Nel­son Man­dela’s fu­neral Sun­day, when the Eastern Cape vil­lage where Madiba grew up hosts one of the largest events in South African his­tory.

“There is a lot of peo­ple and a lot of dis­rup­tion,” said a spokesper­son at the Nel­son Man­dela Mu­seum, the largest build­ing in Qunu, which has be­come the site of a mar­quee for the world’s me­dia.

Much larger tem­po­rary struc­tures are be­ing hastily con­structed to host the cer­e­mony and its 5,000 guests, with of­fi­cials ad­mit­ting work is be­hind sched­ule. Eleven venues in the lo­cal area will screen the fu­neral for those un­able to at­tend, with up to 70,000 ex­pected, and ac­com­mo­da­tion prices ris­ing sharply across the re­gion.

Roads lead­ing to the vil­lage will be blocked, and the lo­cal air­port in Mthatha will be­come a no-fly zone, re­served for around 100 pri­vate jets trans­port­ing dig­ni­taries. “The mil­i­tary will be in con­trol,” an­nounced mu­nic­i­pal­ity mayor No­makhosazana Meth. “Ev­ery­thing is in or­der there, and we are ready to warmly wel­come our guests.”

Many world lead­ers and celebri­ties are ex­pected to at­tend, in­clud­ing Charles, Prince of Wales, and Oprah Win­frey. More than 1,500 mem­bers of the me­dia have been ac­cred­ited. But res­i­dents of the vil­lage have claimed they are be­ing pre­vented from at­tend­ing the fu­neral be­cause of the vis­i­tors.

On Satur­day, a mil­i­tary air­craft will take Man­dela’s re­mains from Pre­to­ria 900 kilo­me­tres away to the Eastern Cape. The fu­neral be­gins at 9 a.m. lo­cal time on Sun­day. The ex-pres­i­dent will re­ceive a Chris­tian burial, but also the Xhosa rit­u­als of his com­mu­nity with an ad­dress to his spirit.

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