Qunu, a vil­lage that is deep in mourn­ing

But Joburg cel­e­brates a leg­end’s life

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013 - VUYO MKIZE

THEY came to Qunu to cel­e­brate the life of the “fa­ther” who fought for their free­dom. But in­stead they found a vil­lage in mourn­ing.

“In Joburg, peo­ple are so alive; it’s a true celebration of his life there,” Nandipha Maka told Weekend Ar­gus. “Here peo­ple are just mourn­ing.”

Maka joined Bukelwa Thon- jeni- Ma­bandla and Zoleka Thon­jeni, jour­ney­ing from Mthatha, to ar­rive at the gates of the home of Nel­son Man­dela yes­ter­day.

They were hop­ing to cel­e­brate his life with lo­cal vil­lagers, but in­stead were met by an eerie still­ness.

For most of the day, vil­lagers were seen qui­etly con­tin­u­ing with their lives, with most de­clin­ing to speak to the me­dia.

Sev­eral mil­i­tary Nyalas, three po­lice ve­hi­cles and a hand­ful of sol­diers stood firmly out­side Madiba’s homestead to main­tain se­cu­rity.

“We heard about his pass­ing at about 5am this morn­ing and felt we just had to come pay our re­spects be­cause we used to come to his birth­days and it would be so won­der­ful… he was so gen­er­ous,” ex­plained Thon­jeni-Ma­bandla yes­ter­day.

The trio vowed to re­turn ev­ery day un­til Madiba’s fu­neral next Sun­day to pay their last re­spects to the man who “taught us peace”.

Buyelekhaya Zwelinz­ima Dalindyebo, the king of the AbaThembu clan, also paid his re­spects to his grand­fa­ther.

“On Mon­day, the king is invit­ing all the Thembu chiefs to hold a prayer meet­ing (at Madiba’s home) at 11am,” Mti- rara said, adding Dalindyebo would re­mem­ber Madiba as a fa­ther, mem­ber of the fam­ily and fa­ther of the na­tion.

Paul Set­setse re­mem­bers his first few en­coun­ters with the larger-than-life states­man, Nel­son Man­dela.

Set­setse was at a loss for words, his body was shak­ing. “It was as if it were not real,” he lamented.

But yes­ter­day Set­setse was not shak­ing nor was he at a loss of words as he walked across the N2 to place a bou­quet of flow­ers at Madiba’s Qunu home gate. He was the first per­son to lay flow­ers at the closely guarded gate, and even as po­lice and se­cu­rity guards ap­proached, he didn’t step back. Mo­ments later, two young women also laid flow­ers.

“I used to work for the jus­tice depart­ment when he was the state pres­i­dent. I was also spokesper­son for the jus­tice depart­ment dur­ing the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion,” he said.

Set­setse re­mem­bers trav­el­ling with Man­dela to the North­ern Cape af­ter a young­ster stabbed a fel­low stu­dent with scis­sors in school. “I was per­son­ally in­vited by him to ac­com­pany him there and he was just a dif­fer­ent hu­man

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