Mvezo gears up for Madiba tribute
A large marquee is being erected at Mvezo in the Eastern Cape ahead of the Nelson Mandela centenary celebrations, commemorating the global icon’s birth on July 18.
Mvezo is the birthplace of the late former president. He was was born in 1918, in an impoverished village overlooking the Mbhashe River.
When City Press visited the area on Friday, the marquee’s large steel-frame structure could be seen. Parts of it were covered as workers were busy building an accompanying arena as big as the marquee. The scene was reminiscent of Mandela’s funeral, which was held in Qunu in December 2013.
It was not immediately clear how far preparations had got. Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela, Madiba’s eldest grandson, promised that all would be revealed soon. Mandla is the chief of abaThembu baku Mvezo.
But surprisingly, at Madiba’s burial place in Qunu, no visible work has been done. This, despite plans stated by the family to open the late icon’s gravesite for public viewing for the first time, as part of the centenary celebrations.
In August last year, City Press noticed work being done at the gravesite, including the building of shelters.
Then Ndaba Mandela, another of Madiba’s grandsons, disclosed that the family had plans to open the site for public viewing ahead of July 18 this year.
“We are hoping that the gravesite will be open and ready before Mandela Day on July 18. There is still a lot of work to be done. We are still raising money. These things take time,” Ndaba told City Press at the time.
He added that the family, who had spearheaded the project, wanted to ensure that there was a shelter where people could sit, as well as a garden and other amenities such as running water, before they could open it up for public viewing.
But this week, it was unclear whether those plans were still on track.
Oscar Mabuyane, ANC chairperson in the province, who is also the MEC for economic development, environmental affairs and tourism, said the decision lay with the family.
“I will leave that to the ANC and the family as they are more central to that. Remember, Madiba belonged to the family before he became an ANC person. So, the family remains the centre of decision-making on that issue, but we are in discussions.
“We think that the family will at some point understand that Tata Mandela lived for the people. He would still want that impact, that legacy, to continue ... Having his grave as a tourist destination would help us improve and create more jobs – jobs that he was fighting for,” Mabuyane said.
In January, the ANC’s top six could not visit Madiba’s gravesite after being told by the family that the site was not open to the public as there were still some outstanding traditional family rituals that needed to be performed first.