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December 13, 2013

Mandela Village Prepares Final Farewell to Favorite Son

by Scott Bobb

Qunu, in Eastern Cape Province is preparing to lay to rest its favorite son, former president Nelson Mandela, who died last week at the age of 95. 

Mandela will be buried in a tradtional Xhosa ceremony in his family compound alongside three of his children. Male elders of his clan will conduct the funeral rites. Xhosa traditions dictate than an ox be slaughtered on the day of the funeral to accompany the spirit of the deceased. 

Despite the heavy rain in recent days, authorities say they will be ready for the state funeral.
 
Security is tight around the Mandela compound.  Attendance to Sunday's event will be open to only a few thousand people, mostly family and friends, along with some African leaders.
 
Journalists from around the world are also gathering to cover the final farewell to Mandela, who helped bring down apartheid and heal South Africa's racial divisions.
 
Qunu’s children come to the nearby Nelson Mandela Museum to pay their last respects. Mandela was known to be especially fond of children.  He felt they held the key for a better world.
 
The museum sponsors a youth center.  Museum head Nozuko Yokwana says Mandela founded the center, saying it would keep his legacy alive.
 
“So this is one of the processes and one of those functions that are getting people together to say, 'Let’s rejoice in the name of Tata [“Father” Mandela].  Let’s build that legacy and keep that light burning," she explained.

The children say Mandela’s death is sad, but his memory provides an inspiration and an example.

Mandela was raised with his two sisters in Qunu where he tended cattle and attended a local Methodist school.   In his autobiography Mandela described Qunu as the place where he spent the happiest time of his childhood.