Tra­di­tional last rites for fa­mous elder

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013 - IVOR POW­ELL

THE pa­tience of a hand­ful of jour­nal­ists and ra­dio and tele­vi­sion hacks was re­warded just af­ter 3pm when the gates to Nel­son Man­dela’s homestead opened then closed again be­hind four solemn- faced ad­vis­ers to Dalinyebo, the king of the Thembu.

The king sent his apolo­gies, said Nkosi Bovu­lengwe Nti­rara, “but he is not feel­ing well and has asked us to con­vey a mes­sage on his be­half ”.

Nkosi Nti­rara’s ad­dress came in par­tial con­fir­ma­tion of a ru­mour ear­lier rip­pling though a smat­ter­ing of jour­nal­ists po­si­tioned out­side the gates of Man­dela’s Qunu homestead to catch the news as it fell, some since be­fore dawn on a thin and chilly morn­ing.

Though no­body had seen them en­ter, the word was that a group of Thembu tra­di­tional lead­ers were in­side say­ing prayers and per­form­ing rit­u­als for the soul of the revered elder states­man.

But the way Nkosi Nti­rara told it, it was more per­sonal than that. The king, he said, was “feel­ing very bad, he is not OK”, he has lost a “fa­ther and grand­fa­ther”, and “a fa­ther to the na­tion and to every­body”.

Even so, he wanted the world to know that hav­ing paid his per­sonal and tra­di­tional re­spects, the king would be at­tend­ing a lo­cal fu­neral to­day, but from there would be trav­el­ling to Joburg to meet with “Mama Graca and Mama Win­nie”.

From there it would be back to the Man­dela homestead at Qunu to hold court and re­mem­ber Man­dela in the tra­di­tional ways.

The king had sent out in­vi­ta­tions to all the Thembu chiefs, Nti­rara said, ask­ing them to be at the homestead at 10am on Mon­day to mourn and to cel­e­brate the man the king sees as a fa­ther and a grand­fa­ther. Then, po­litely, that was that and the in­for­ma­tion gates yawned again and snapped shut. be­ing… a dif­fer­ent per­son than oth­ers,” he con­tin­ued. Set­setse, a busi­ness­man now, said when he heard of Madiba’s pass­ing, he was “shocked” inas­much as he knew he had been un­well.

“His pass­ing came as a shock not just to South Africa, but to Africa and the world. I just thought it be­fit­ting to come to pay re­spects to Tata in his home and ex­press my sin­cere con­do­lences to his fam­ily.”

PIC­TURES: ADRIAN DE KOCK

LAST SUN­RISE: The sun rises over Nel­son Man­dela’s home in Qunu in the East­ern Cape yes­ter­day.

IN MOURN­ING: A SAPS flag at Nel­son Man­dela’s home in Qunu in the East­ern Cape flies at half­mast yes­ter­day as the vil­lage mourns the icon’s pass­ing.

‘LOST A FA­THER’: Nkosi Bhovu­lengwe Mti­rara briefly speaks to re­porters gath­ered out­side Man­dela’s home in Qunu.

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