Qunu elders fear moral fibre will die with Madiba

2013-06-13 11:17

Village elders in Qunu are worried that the “moral fibre” of South Africa may die with former president Nelson Mandela.

It is for this reason that villagers want the man, affectionately known by his clan name of Madiba, to pull through from his current hospital stay.

Mandela is in a serious condition in a Pretoria hospital for a recurring lung infection.

He is spending his sixth day in hospital today.

Yesterday, President Jacob Zuma told MPs in Parliament during his budget vote address, that the former president was responding well to treatment.

This brought some relief to a nation holding its collective breath.

Mandela’s recent hospitalisation has also seen an unprecedented flock of family members to visit him in hospital this week, with his wife, Graça Machel said to have been by his bedside since he was admitted in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Although the tiny village of Qunu was relatively calm this week, with people going about their business as usual, villagers, who depend solely on the media for updates on Madiba’s condition, were anxious about his continuous hospital stay.

Zinyusile Zithathele (77), who last saw Madiba at his Qunu resident two years ago, said he wished Dalibhunga, Mandela’s praise name, could be younger as he embodies the morale fibre of this country.

“I don’t know what South Africa will be without him. He is the glue that holds us together in unity. This country would not be what it is, if it were not for his leadership and sacrifices,” Zithathele said.

He reminisced the days shortly after Mandela was released from prison in 1990.

“He is a very funny man. He would walk around the village, asking us where his old mates he grew up with where. Most of them had passed away by then.

“When we tell him this, he would proclaim that he was now the oldest in Qunu and that we must show him some respect. He said this jokingly, of course, but with great humility and pride,” Zithathele said.

Kekana Geledwana (92) is the closest neighbour to Madiba with their homes being separated only by the high security fences in the Mandela residence, along the N2 between Mthatha and East London.

Geledwana speaks fondly of Madiba.

“When Madiba was still active, he would call me over to his house and say he wants to show me the world. We would get into a helicopter and travel to places I have never seen before.

“It was the first time anyone in this village besides him (Madiba) had been in a helicopter. He is a very humble man, I wish God can give him more years to live,” said Geledwana.

He added: “I don’t know how it would be if he were to die now, because we still need him. It seems that people don’t do bad things, out of respect for him.”

This week in Qunu, local and international media could be seen moving around the village.

Nombuyiseko Khwetshube (71) said it was time people let go of Madiba, whom she said was in frail due to his old age.

“I thought he passed away already, because he is too scarce. We don’t see him any more. I wish God can relieve him, he has suffered so greatly. I think it’s time God spared him from the pain and take him away. It is unfair to expect the old man to hold on forever,” Khwetshube said.

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