Flag flies high in vil­lage hearts

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013 - SIPOKAZI FOKAZI

WHEN­EVER Nel­son Man­dela vis­ited Qunu, the South African flag would be hoisted at his home. But for Ane­sipho Gova, 14, the sad­dest mo­ment about Madiba’s death is com­ing to terms with the fact that the bright flag – which sym­bol­ises the end of seg­re­ga­tion, the new democ­racy and unity among South Africans – prob­a­bly won’t fly again in her vil­lage… at least not for a while.

The Grade 7 pupil from Empa Ju­nior Sec­ondary in Qunu was among more than 1 000 chil­dren who gath­ered at the Nel­son Man­dela Mu­seum this week to re­mem­ber the states­man. Af­ter par­tic­i­pat­ing in a hu­man chain in a pledge to up­hold Man­dela’s legacy, Ane­sipho wrote a trib­ute to Man­dela: “Lala ngox­olo tata… ugqatso ulufezile. Sohlala sikukhum­bula” (Rest in peace fa­ther, you have com­pleted the race. We will al­ways miss you).

She met Man­dela for the first time about seven years ago when he held a Christ­mas party at his Qunu home, and in­vited all the lo­cal chil­dren.

“I re­mem­ber wak­ing up very early, at about 4am, to get a nice spot at the party. He came in a he­li­copter and we all gath­ered around when the he­li­copter landed. He got out and the first thing he did was to come to each one of us to shake our hands. It was the most amaz­ing mo­ment of my life. I didn’t want to wash my hands af­ter that… in fact, I wished I could just take him home and make him tea.

“To me he was more like my own grand­fa­ther, he made us feel so loved,” she said.

Lithakazi Mfolo, 15, a Grade 8 pupil from the same school as Gova, was also at that mem­o­rable party.

“Qunu will never be the same with­out him. He brought us so much hope... par­tic­u­larly to us com­ing from his vil­lage,” she said. “When he was around you, there was just this mag­i­cal thing about him… I can’t ex­plain it in words, but it was just un­be­liev­able.”

While Lithakazi doesn’t se­ri­ously be­lieve there could be another pres­i­dent from Qunu in her life­time, she doesn’t de­spair.

“I can’t think of any­body who can fill his shoes re­ally, but dreams come true. I’m sure when he was grow­ing up in this ru­ral vil­lage like us no­body thought that he would ever be­come the pres­i­dent, but he sol­diered on and was tri­umphant.

“Who knows, there could be another pres­i­dent from Qunu if we be­lieve in our­selves just like he did, and the South African flag could fly again,” she said.



CHRIST­MAS JOY: Nontsikelelo Javi, Ane­sipho Gova and Lithakazi Mfolo speak about the times they used to go to Man­dela’s house for Christ­mas.

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