Mourning period for Mandela ends

2014-03-23 15:48
Former president Nelson Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, and his ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Former president Nelson Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, and his ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

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Johanesburg - The family of former president Nelson Mandela gathered at his ancestral home in Qunu on Saturday 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.

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.

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