Squabbles mar family plans to honour patriarch
● As the world prepares to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s centenary birthday on Wednesday, his family will spend it much like they did during his final years and immediately after his death — bickering.
Mandela’s final resting place at his farm at Qunu in the Eastern Cape will be empty as plans to have the centenary celebrations there — to coincide with the opening of his grave site to the public — have fizzled out.
Instead, Mandela’s eldest grandson, Mandla, the chief of Mvezo Great Place, has planned a lavish celebration at Mandela’s birthplace, with a huge dome and marquee similar to the ones used at Mandela’s funeral.
But while President Cyril Ramaphosa and former presidents Jacob Zuma and Kgalema Motlanthe are expected to attend the Mvezo event, Mandela’s eldest daughter, Makaziwe, and many of his grandchildren will not be present.
Mandla said the event was “an initiative of the Royal House of Mandela in partnership with the Universal Peace Federation and is itself an occasion to announce a major international peace conference scheduled for November in honour of the greatest global icon of peace of our times”.
He wouldn’t elaborate on initial plans to commemorate the centenary birthday Qunu.
Makaziwe told the Sunday Times she wasn’t attending the Mvezo event.
“What am I going to do in Mvezo? Mvezo is Mandla’s place and mine is Qunu, I’ve got nothing to do with that,” she said.
Asked what she would be doing, she replied: “That’s got nothing to do with you.”
A granddaughter, Ndileka, said: “A bulk of us won’t be there as we will be attending events like the memorial lecture and dinners. I think Ndaba will be in Qunu as he normally does each year. We won’t be in Mvezo, no.”
Grandson Ndaba didn’t respond to queries, but according to his website he is scheduled to be working with the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha on Wednesday.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, who Mandela treated as a son and who was a key person in organising the funeral in December 2013, said he wasn’t invited to the Mvezo event and was “in the dark” about it. He will be among thousands at the Mandela memorial lecture at Bidvest Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, to be delivered by former US president Barack Obama.
Meanwhile, Eastern Cape traditional leaders said that while they would attend the Mvezo event, they were saddened that the commemoration would not be taking place at Qunu.
The chairman of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders‚ Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, said: “We would love to be allowed to go and lay wreaths at Mandela’s grave in Qunu, but for that of course we need to get permission from Chief Mandla Mandela.”
The Mandelas’ neighbour in Qunu, Chief Nokwanele Balizulu, said she was shocked that no significant event would be hosted at Mandela’s farm.
“One was expecting that there would be a huge event here to honour Mandela after five years since he died and his centenary celebrations will be celebrated.
“But we have to support the family in Mvezo, and we are going there with our full support,” said Balizulu.
Cracks in the family started to be visible before Mandela’s burial, when a fight broke out after Mandla exhumed the graves of Mandela’s children Makgatho, Thembekile and the first Makaziwe and had them moved from Qunu to his Mvezo village.
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What am I going to do in Mvezo? Mvezo is Mandla’s place and mine is Qunu, I’ve got nothing to do with that
Mandela’s eldest daughter
Chief Mandla Mandela has had a dome as large as the one used at his grandfather’s funeral erected in Mvezo for a VIP gathering on Wednesday.