Family yet to open Madiba’s grave to public
With the world set to celebrate former President Nelson Mandela’s centenary birthday next week, there has been no progress in deciding on opening the grave to the public.
Many, including some government leaders, believe this would boost tourism in the OR Tambo region as many would descend on Mthatha to view Madiba’s grave in Qunu.
Mandela’s eldest grandson, Nkosi Mandla Zwelivelile Mandela, the head of the Mandela chiefdom in Mvezo, said it could not be the decision of only the family.
“Madiba belongs to the global community, so in contextualising this the family, the ANC – his political home – and the South African government need to come together in finding a solution around this matter.”
Mandla would not say whether the family was in favour of the grave site being opened to the public or not.
He said the discussion would have been held, had president Cyril Ramaphosa visited Qunu as announced during the ANC’s January 8 statement.
“But with regret, that was never realised,” said Mandla.
“Madiba continues to be the only ANC president that the ANC top six has not been to, to lay wreaths at his place of rest.
“Nevertheless, we remain hopeful that this will be done during his centenary, and also that the discussion on opening the grave for public viewing will be started so that there is dialogue between these three entities – family, ANC and the South African government.”
The Mandela family have now erected a new tombstone on the grave. It was privately unveiled on March 25.
Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who died on April 2, did not attend the intimate ceremony.
The unveiling was so safely guarded that some Mandelas in Qunu were unaware of it.
Mandela’s oldest daughter, Dr Makaziwe Mandela-Amou, would not comment when contacted by the Dispatch.
Other Madiba clan members, like Nkosi Ngangomhlaba Matanzima and AbaThembu acting King Azenathi Dalindyebo, as well as the ANC in the province and the provincial government, were unaware of the unveiling.
But Mvezo, Qunu and Mqhekezweni residents felt they had been sidelined by the Mandelas. “We cannot have a world icon who on his death is reduced to be only for the Mandelas,” said ANC branch member and Qunu resident Ntsizakalo Mthimde.
Qunu traditional leader Nkosikazi Nokwanele Balizulu was also unaware of the ceremony. But those who have seen the tombstone say it is beautiful and befitting for a man of Madiba’s stature.
The grave site was under construction when Ramaphosa led the ANC visit to Qunu on January 11 and met with Mandla, but he did not lay wreaths.
Mandla and ANC secretarygeneral Ace Magashule told the media at the time that the wreath laying would be done on February 11, the day marking Mandela’s release from prison. But ANC leaders marked the day at the Grand Parade in Cape Town.
Madiba belongs to all. He was our hero and will ever remain our hero
FINE WORK: NMU fine art student Logan Ramage works carefully on his drawing of Nelson Mandela. Three NMU students were at Baywest Mall yesterday afternoon to create chalk drawings in honour of Madiba's birthday next week.