Nelson Mandela settles in birthplace

2011-08-27 18:44

Former president Nelson ­Mandela has now settled in his Qunu homestead permanently, after he first left the Eastern Cape 70 years ago.

Mandela has not returned to his Johannesburg home in the affluent suburb of Houghton since July when he travelled to Qunu to celebrate his 93rd birthday in July.

So far, Madiba – as he is passionately known globally – has spent more than six weeks in Qunu.

This, according to an elderly resident villager, is the longest time Mandela has spent in the village since his release from prison in 1990.

At least three sources close to the Mandela family in Qunu told City Press that the elderly statesman had informed family members that he intended to be based in the village, which is outside Mthatha.

According to a community leader in one of the villages neighbouring Qunu, Mandela’s grandson and Mvezo chief Mandla Mandela believes his grandfather is too old to be regularly commuting between Johannesburg and Mthatha.

“He (Madiba) wants to be left alone to stay in Qunu,” said the community leader.

The other sources said word of Madiba’s intention to stay in Qunu was spreading throughout the area.

Chief Mandla Mandela, through his spokesperson ­Freddy Pilusa, said he would not comment about his grandfather’s movements as it ­involved security and referred enquiries to government.

Government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi referred enquiries to Presidency. Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said he was not in a position to comment about Mandela’s move.

Sello Hatang of the Nelson Mandela Foundation said they do not discuss Madiba’s ­movements.

Following his admission to hospital in January for what was described as routine ­check-up, Mandela has been to Qunu at least twice.

In May, Mandela spent a week there when the family exhumed and reburied three of his children’s remains in his birthplace, Mvezo, not far from Qunu. He did not attend the reburial.

The children, from Mandela’s first marriage to Evelyn Mase, were his only sons, Thembekile and Makgatho, and their sister Makaziwe.

Mandela travelled in a military aircraft to Mthatha and has a team of SA Police Service protection unit members, SA Military Health Services health personnel and ­ambulances on stand-by.

In his autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom, Mandela writes that he and cousin ­Justice – the son of Mandela’s guardian Nkosi Jongintaba Dalindyebo – fled the village when the family organised brides which they were to ­marry in 1941.

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