Mourning ribbons spark new Mandela fracas

2014-01-05 10:00

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Fresh hostilities have broken out in the family of the late former president Nelson Mandela?–?this time over mourning ribbons.

The AbaThembu royal family has entered the fray, expressing concerns that some members?–?notably grandsons Mandla and Ndaba?–?were not given amaqhosha, or mourning ribbons, to wear as tradition dictates.

Daludumo Mtirara, a senior member of the great house of the kingdom of AbaThembu, said in a statement this week that the exclusion of the brothers whom he described as “the core of the Mandela family” from wearing the black mourning ribbons was unacceptable.

Mtirara said they had noticed that Ndaba and Mandla were not wearing any mourning ribbons at a family meeting they had attended two days after Christmas.

The meeting was held to discuss the negative media reports about the Mandela family and their squabbles.

Mtirara said: “We also discussed Nobandla Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s recent statement about the head of the family. We agreed that she did not get the mandate from the elders and has no authority to discuss our culture, custom and tradition in the media.

“We decided to disregard her disrespectful statement and confirmed once again that Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela is the only point of entry to the Mandela house.”

Mtirara said the ribbons were important cultural symbols.

“The first thing the members identified was the non-appearance of the mourning ribbons, known as amaqhosha, on Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela and Zweliyajika Ndaba Mandela.

“We tried to find out why they did not have them on and we also became aware that there are other members of the family who do not have them. It was indicated that one of the family members was tasked to make and distribute them,” Mtirara said.

“We also found that the mourning ribbons are in Johannesburg and not all the family members would be issued with them.

“We concluded by stating that it is unacceptable and against our tradition to witness the isolation of the core of the Mandela family and other members of the family.”

On New Year’s Day, Mandla Mandela welcomed Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco, who spent the day touring Mvezo and surrounding villages.

But while he has been entertaining royalty, Mandla Mandela has been isolated by his family.

His aunt Makaziwe ordered the locks of his Qunu house to be changed while he was in Pretoria for three days standing next to his grandfather’s body as it lay in state.

Mtirara said all family members needed to be given mourning ribbons urgently.

“It’s very strange and unheard of in our culture that the mourning ribbons are in Joburg because we expect them to be in Qunu where Madiba is buried, in line with AbaThembu traditions. We hope that by this weekend, all members of the family will be issued with the ribbons,” he said on Friday.

Mandla Mandela did not attend the family meeting at which the mourning ribbons were discussed, further evidence that the family was sidelining him, according to Mtirara.

“We find this unacceptable and against Thembu tradition,” he said.

Mandla Mandela did not respond to requests for comment.

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