A year on, Qunu is still angry

2014-11-30 15:00

Qunu’s residents will be “forever angry” about the way they were treated after Nelson Mandela died, says the village’s chief.

Nkosikazi Nokwanele Balizulu spoke to City Press at her Qunu home a few days before the first anniversary of Mandela’s death.

She’s also still angry.

“I was given accreditation just a day before the funeral. I was the only one in Qunu permitted to attend the funeral. I did not go. I watched the funeral on TV like everybody else,” says Balizulu (45).

And the villagers still feel excluded. Friday is the anniversary of Mandela’s death, but they still haven’t been told what role, if any, they will play in commemorations on the day.

Balizulu says the Madiba she knew would not have approved.

“The state came here and locked down the village for his funeral. We did not want to be VIPs, but just to be acknowledged the way Tata did.”

She says some Qunu residents wanted to protest while the funeral was being held, but she convinced them not to.

“I told them they would be shot just like those in Marikana. They said the land where Mandela is buried belonged to Qunu, that he was given this land by them. [They] were very angry, still are.

“I told them to respect his wishes because Madiba wanted to be buried in Qunu.”

A year on, Balizulu is worried about the state of Mandela’s grave and his livestock. She says nobody has been employed to take care of the grave where Madiba is buried alongside his children Thembekile, Makgatho and baby Makaziwe.

“Look, things are not going well. Madiba’s cattle are dying because no one is taking care of them. The domestic ducks are dying because they don’t have mielies. They eat soil and drink water. It’s so painful.

“I feel sorry for the poor animals. It would have been better if people died with their things,” Balizulu says.

But amid the lingering anger, there is still joy when Balizulu and the people of Qunu think of their beloved Madiba.

“Tata was a man among men. He cared for people, especially ordinary people,” she says.

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