Mourning period for Mandelas comes to an end

2014-03-23 10:00

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The family of former president Nelson Mandela gathered at his ancestral home in Qunu yesterday for a traditional ritual to mark the end of their mourning period.

Qunu chief Nokwanele Balizulu, who lives opposite the Mandelas’ house, said the ritual, called ukutshisa amaqhosha, or the burning of the mourning ribbons, was attended by “all members of the family”, including Madiba’s widow, Graça Machel; his former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela; his ­eldest daughter, Makaziwe; his eldest grandson, Mandla; and the rest of the grandchildren.

Yesterday, City Press saw Mandla Mandela entering the Qunu homestead early in the morning.

At around midday, his third wife, Mbalenhle Makhathini, and his mother, Nolusapho, accompanied by three other ­unidentified people, visited Madiba’s grave.

The ceremony follows infighting in the family before and shortly after Madiba’s death in December.

Chief Balizulu, who also attended the ceremony, said after the formalities family, friends and all people from around the village then feasted on the meat of the cow and sheep that were slaughtered, and drank the traditional beer, which marked the end of the ceremony.

Machel, however, will ­continue to mourn because a ­widow’s mourning period lasts for between six months and a year.

“During this period, she is required to wear black clothes as a symbol of mourning. After the mourning period is over for a wife, another similar ceremony will take place, where those dark clothes will be taken off.

“The wife will then be cleansed,” said Balizulu.

Yesterday’s ceremony was overseen by the family elders, who received the mourning ribbons of the family and burned them.

“This is a celebratory event for the family. The entire family has come together to say to tata, they have mourned him with dignity and now it is time for them to move on and carry on with their lives.”

This is not the first family ritual to be undertaken by the Mandelas following the global icon’s death.

A week after his burial, they conducted ukuhlamba ipeki, or washing of the spades, where tools used to dig the grave were cleaned.

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