News / Africa

Qunu Locals Prepare Their Own Mandela Celebration

A general view shows funeral preparations being made around the property of late former South African President Nelson Mandela in Qunu, Eastern Cape, Dec. 12, 2013.
A general view shows funeral preparations being made around the property of late former South African President Nelson Mandela in Qunu, Eastern Cape, Dec. 12, 2013.
Hannah McNeish
Millions of people will watch the funeral Sunday of Nelson Mandela, as South Africa's first black president and a champion of human rights is laid to rest at his boyhood village of Qunu. While the media and politicians arrive for the event, local people are planning their own celebrations for a man who rose from humble beginnings to transform the nation.

Outside what looks like a small home as you enter the village of Qunu, men offload beer for a tiny bar illuminated by lights over a billiards table and whose back room has more than 500 cases stacked to ceiling height.

The bar will host a celebration of Nelson Mandela's life Sunday as locals join the world in saying a final goodbye to the great statesman.

Eric Mjamba has been trucking meat and beer for the festivities back and forth from the nearest city of Mthatha. He said that Sunday morning - when Mandela is lowered into the ground at his hillside home - will be a somber event for the people here.

More than 90 world leaders gathered in Johannesburg on Tuesday for a memorial service honoring the late South African President Nelson Mandela.  Below are excerpts.

  • South Africa's President Jacob Zuma: Mandela was a "fearless freedom fighter who refused to allow the brutality of the apartheid state" stand in the way for a struggle for liberation.
  • President Barack Obama: "Mandela showed us the power of action; of taking risks on behalf of our ideals."
  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: "His compassion stands out most. He was angry at injustice, not at individuals."
  • Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff: "His fight went way beyond his national border and inspired men and women, young people and adults to fight for independence and social justice."
  • India's President Pranab Mukherjee: "He was the last of the giants who led the world's struggles against colonialism and his struggle held special significance for us."
  • Cuba's President Raul Castro: "Mandela has led his people into the battle against apartheid to open the way to a new South Africa, a non-racial and a united South Africa."
  • China's Vice President Li Yuanchao: "The Chinese people will always cherish the memory of his important contribution to the China - South Africa friendship and China-Africa relations.''
“Most of the people, when the body comes here of the old man, they will cry, as they liked the old man. Like myself, like myself I liked the old man, and something will happen in my heart,” said Mjamba.

But 20-year-old Pila Angel said he expects that everyone here, after Sunday's funeral, will celebrate Mandela, or "Tata" as most people called him.

“It means a lot to me, it means a lot to me, because he was the one that gave us the freedom," he said. "We are free because of him. A lot of people will be celebrating. That's all. Because, you know, after the funeral, everybody's going to celebrate. Especially for Tata, everybody's going to celebrate.”

Khumbuzile Gubenale is one of the lucky 20 people who is helping to build a tent where dignitaries and family members will gather for the funeral service. This is practically the only event that local people can contribute to, as arrangements for the great statesman's funeral are largely being handled by officials at the national level.

Gubenale, who turns 21 on Sunday, said the day will be a mix of tears, old stories and jubilation as the area's youth remember a man who has inspired so many, in a village that would have otherwise disappeared into obscurity.

“Mr. Mandela, for this community, has influenced the youth, to inspire youth to go to school. Because we've always been told that it's always important to go to school, as school is the key to success," he said. "Without school, there's no job.”

Gubenale hopes to become an accountant, rather than following in Mandela's long footsteps of the law, as he believes black Africans need to play a greater role in the country's economy.

His memory of the great man was forged when he was 13, and like other village children, went to the Mandela house to receive a Christmas present. But rather than play with the toy soldiers handed out, it was the fact that the bearer held their hands that kept Gubenale and his friends talking.

“That day to me, I was very happy to meet Mr. Mandela that day, because I hold his hands, and Mr. Mandela gave the presents, and then we know that, after we arrived home, we will play, we will be happy chatting with friends, and chatting with friends to say, how do we feel, to hold Mr. Mandela's hand,” said Gubenale.

But like everyone else in Qunu, he expects Sunday evening, after the tears have dried, to be a celebration for a man who left his mark on the world and his heart in South Africa.

“There must be no people who will be sad there. Everyone must enjoy as Mr. Mandela will not be back. Even if we are sad, Mr. Mandela is resting there. He's watching us,” he said.

Gubenale said he hopes the future might bring another hero, to continue Mandela's legacy, and to continue South Africa's long walk to freedom.

  • A card and note hang on the fence surrounding the Nelson Mandela National Museum, Mandela's former home, in Soweto, Dec. 12, 2013. (Peter Cox for VOA)
  • A young boy traces the letters on the Vilakasi Street sign outside of Nelson Mandela's home in Soweto, now the Nelson Mandela National Museum, Dec. 12, 2013. (Peter Cox for VOA)
  • Members of the Harley Owners Group, from chapters in Johannesburg and surrounding cities, visited Nelson Mandela's former home in the township of Soweto, Dec. 12, 2013. (Peter Cox for VOA)
  • A brass band marches through the streets in front of Nelson Mandela's home in Houghton, Johannesburg, Dec. 9, 2013. (Peter Cox for VOA)
  • A group of mourners dance outside Nelson Mandela's home in Houghton, Johannesburg, Dec. 9, 2013. (Peter Cox for VOA)
  • A family takes a photo in front of Nelson Mandela's home, where a makeshift memorial was set up in the street, Dec. 9, 2013. (Peter Cox for VOA)
  • Mourners left flowers, posters, poems and cards, among other things, at a makeshift memorial outside of Mandela's home in Houghton, Johannesburg, Dec. 9, 2013. (Peter Cox for VOA)
  • A memorial site set up in Nelson Mandela Square, outside of the Sandton City Mall in Sandton, a suburb north of Johannesburg, Dec. 9, 2013. (Peter Cox for VOA)
  • Worshipers at the Melrose Hindu Temple during the national day of worship and prayer for Nelson Mandela, Dec. 8, 2013. (Peter Cox for VOA)
  • People line up outside of the Union Buildings in Pretoria to sign a condolences book, Dec 6, 2013. (Peter Cox for VOA)
  • Mourners sign a condolences book outside of the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Dec 6, 2013. (Peter Cox for VOA)

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid