Kids have their first Christmas party without Madiba in Qunu

2013-12-13 00:00

MORE than 2 000 children had their first Madiba Christmas party without Madiba yesterday — receiving both gifts, and the explanation that “we will never see him again”.

In a last-minute plan hatched by Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet, the traditional Mandela home Christmas party — which ran almost yearly until 2007 — was deliberately held before his funeral on Sunday, and within sight of the Qunu house, at the Nelson Mandela Museum.

Hordes of teenagers, primary school children and toddlers flooded the hilltop site in Qunu, where Kiviet and her social development staff gave out small toys and “goodie bags” of apples, sweets and biscuits to the under-13s, and “We Love Mandela” T-shirts to the teens.

Word of the event spread with stunning speed on the “Transkei grapevine” yesterday morning, and hundreds of parents, grandparents and older siblings brought children from as far as Butterworth, two hours to the south.

Children — dressed in winter clothes, despite the summer season — swarmed the stone and ochre corridors of the museum, waiting their turn to fill a conference hall, where songs and gifts were being loudly shared.

Asiphe Bili (18) travelled 45 km by taxi to bring his two seven-year-old nieces, and a neighbour’s child to the party: “I got gifts from Madiba myself at previous parties at this house, and today is the last time for a Madiba Christmas party before he is really gone, so we had to get the kids here.”

Kiviet told The Witness she felt the fact of Mandela’s death needed to be understood by the area’s children, and that she had been “moved and to an extent relieved” that some children brought poems and broad smiles to the event.

“One boy told a poem about his salute for the mother of Mandela for having breast-fed ‘such a brainy mind’, resulting in benefits for all children,” the premier said.

“There were regular programmes which Madiba loved to hold, especially this one [the Christmas party], and it is important we continue this day. The kids are used to having him around, so we also needed to help them understand they would not see him again. And they were understanding.”

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