Her­itage bound to Winnie’s early life

CityPress - - News - LUBABALO NGCUKANA lubabalo.ngcukana@city­press.co.za

The Na­tional Her­itage Coun­cil SA (NHC) is work­ing in the vil­lage where Winnie Madik­izela-Man­dela was born and on the church where her mar­riage to for­mer pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela was blessed in Bizana, East­ern Cape, to make them na­tional her­itage sites.

The NHC and the SA Her­itage Re­sources Agency re­cently con­ducted site vis­its and as­sess­ments at Ludeke Methodist Church, where Madik­ize­laMan­dela and Madiba got mar­ried in 1958, to mea­sure restora­tion re­quire­ments so that they could be up­graded to tourism stan­dards.

Madik­izela-Man­dela was born in Mbong­weni, a neigh­bour­ing vil­lage that, at the time, did not have a church build­ing of its own. It has also been pro­posed that a mu­seum be built in Mbong­weni in her hon­our.

It has been pro­posed that Ludeke Pri­mary School, where lib­er­a­tion stal­wart Oliver Tambo, who was part of the Man­dela en­tourage at the wed­ding, also be up­graded and de­clared part of the her­itage site in Ludeke vil­lage. Tambo was born in neigh­bour­ing Nkan­tolo vil­lage, which did not have a pri­mary school at the time.

The com­mu­nity be­lieves the her­itage sites would not only bring pride to the peo­ple in sur­round­ing vil­lages, but would stim­u­late eco­nomic hubs that would, in turn, help cre­ate much-needed jobs through tourism, among other things.

Ad­vo­cate Son­wa­bile Man­co­tywa, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the NHC, said it planned to re­store the sites and launch them in Septem­ber, which would co­in­cide with Madik­ize­laMan­dela’s birth­day cel­e­bra­tions.

Man­co­tywa said the dec­la­ra­tion of new her­itage sites would also re­quire the up­grad­ing of the road in­fra­struc­ture to Ludeke and Mbong­weni.

Through­out the world, wher­ever great icons such as Martin Luther King and Mar­cus Gar­vey were born, govern­ments en­sured there were many eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties in place, which em­pow­ered lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

He said the coun­cil was also work­ing on a legacy project with Wal­ter Sisulu Univer­sity and the depart­ment of social devel­op­ment to hon­our Madik­izela-Man­dela ap­pro­pri­ately. They pro­posed that she be be­stowed with an hon­orary doc­tor­ate in recog­ni­tion of her con­tri­bu­tion to the coun­try’s lib­er­a­tion ef­forts, as well as for be­com­ing the first black social worker in South Africa. All these as­pects will form part of broader plans for her birth­day in Mbizana this year. “We spoke to Mama Winnie. She ex­pressed her own wishes and con­cerns about the places where she was born and went to school, and why they are very im­por­tant,” he said. City Press vis­ited the Ludeke Methodist Church, founded by the Rev­erend Sa­muel Clark in 1904. Now un­der the Rev­erend Lungisa Mlamli, a mod­ern and much big­ger build­ing next to the old one is used for church ser­vices. The old build­ing is still in­tact, but its in­te­rior will re­quire a sub­stan­tial face-lift. Nom­bulelo Faku, a church ste­ward and Ludeke res­i­dent, wel­comed the news of the restora­tion of the church for tourism pur­poses. She said the church had a rich his­tory that pre­ceded Madik­izela-Man­dela and Madiba’s wed­ding. “The first high school and first clinic in this area were founded by this church un­der Rev­erend Clark. The fact that Tata Madiba and Mama Winnie also got mar­ried [in the area] is a bonus. OR Tambo also did his first grade here. This will re­ally in­spire our chil­dren,” Faku said. San­disiwe Ndamase (19) a Grade 12 pupil at Mzamba High School in Ludeke vil­lage, said she wanted to fol­low in the foot­steps of her role model – Madik­izela-Man­dela – by get­ting a de­gree in social work. “Mbizana is a ru­ral place and no­body ever imag­ined that the first black social worker and first lady of a demo­cratic South Africa would come from here, yet it hap­pened,” she said. Madik­izela-Man­dela’s daugh­ter Zindzi and grand­son Zondwa could not be reached for com­ment. Mandla Man­dela, Madiba’s el­dest grand­son, said: “I am happy for them. Un­for­tu­nately, I don’t have much to say. You can speak to her chil­dren or grand­chil­dren.”

STRUG­GLE ROOTS The school build­ing where OR Tambo com­pleted first grade – Ludeke Pri­mary School – has also been ear­marked for restora­tion so that it can be named as a na­tional her­itage site

HEEDING THE CALL San­disiwe Ndamase (19) says she has been in­spired by Winnie Madik­izela-Man­dela and also wants to study social work

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