Legacy of three presidents: Qunu

2011-02-05 17:24

Noheadman Somda’s day starts at 4am with a 15km trek to work on a gravel road in Mvezo village, Transkei, the birthplace of Nelson Mandela.

The single mother of four works at a farming project started by Mandela’s grandson, Mandla Mandela.

“I don’t have a choice; my children have to eat. If I don’t work then we will all die of hunger,” said Somda, who is in her 50s and has never been to school.

Along the road she meets up with other women from nearby villages who work with her.

All the women are breadwinners and after the 15km walk back home after 5pm they still have to prepare dinner for their families.

“We walk this road every day to get to work and come back sometimes in the dark. It is very scary; you never know what could happen because there are people who cut off other people’s heads and sell them as muti right here in these villages,” said farmworker Zokolwa ­Mxesibe.

Seventeen years of democracy have meant little for those living in Mvezo. They still cook on open fires, fetch water from rivers and use donkey carts to get around and carry goods.

There is no electricity, piped water or built toilets and the gravel roads are full of potholes. Children walk many kilometres to get to school.

“The fact that Mandela was born here (Mvezo) has not meant any favours. You can look around and see for yourself that this village looks the same as any other village. There is nothing to show that this is Mandela’s home,” said Noheadman’s sister-in-law Nonezile Somda.

In nearby Qunu, where Mandela grew up and spent his early years, there is electricity and the two schools are located within walking distance from every household in the village.
 
The village also houses the Nelson Mandela Museum, which has created some of the few jobs available in the area, mainly for crafters and tour guides.

Zimisele Gamakulu was unemployed before becoming a tour guide when the museum was officially opened in 2007.

“There has been very little transformation in Qunu besides the museum and the new Sasol garage, which will also include a library and computer centre to benefit the community,” said Gamakulu.

King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality spokesperson Sonwabo Mampoza said the municipality had set aside about R16 million for projects, including beautifying the two villages and a care centre for the elderly and underprivileged.

A community clinic is being built in Mvezo and a plant nursery in Qunu. The projects had already created 650 jobs.

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