Stepbrother worried sick

2011-01-28 00:00

NELSON Mandela’s adoptive brother is haunted by worry in the former president’s home village in the Eastern Cape as the world waits for news of the ailing former statesman.

Morris Mandela (79), who was raised by Mandela’s parents when his own parents died when he was young, was sweating in the garden outside his humble Qunu home yesterday.

Qunu is about 20 km outside Mthatha.

“I am heart-broken right now,” he said. “I can’t even feel the work that I am doing right now in this garden because my mind is not here.”

The elderly man, who was once a herder with Mandela in their rural home, said the news of his older brother being hospitalised came as a surprise to him and his wife Nothemba because when they last saw him in December he was fragile but fine.

“I last spoke to him in December and he was very fragile but he could speak and eat.

“We shared a few jokes around the dinner table about the good old days when I used to take him to school on horseback,” said Morris, who shared a house in Soweto with Mandela before he was arrested.

“I was there when they [apartheid police] took him,” he said.

He said he had been contacted by one of Mandela’s daughters, Makaziwe, who said that the family hoped that he would “pull through”.

As Media24 interviewed Morris and his wife Nothemba, they received constant phone calls from family members in Johannesburg updating them on the former president’s health status.

In the village itself a sombre mood hung over the area as villagers went about their everyday lives while keeping track of the latest news concerning their ailing famous son on radio and television.

There was an air of anxiety as locals dreaded the thought of hearing the worst news.

“We hope that God will take care of him while he is still in hospital and we pray that he will be discharged very soon,” said Nothemba, who described the former president as one of the kindest and most genuine people that she has ever met.

Mandela’s nephew, Lubabalo Sigonya (37), said: “We are all very concerned right now. Anything could happen at his age. We pray for the best though because he has done so much for us.”

But despite the anxiety among many, others were less concerned.

Close relative Nozolile Mtirara (90), whose late husband grew up with Mandela, claimed that Mandela was not in a critical condition and that he only had a problem with his legs. She claimed to be in regular contact with the Mandela family in Johannesburg.

“There is nothing wrong with him, he just has a problem with his legs and that is why he can’t walk,” she said.

Mtirara said she also spent some time with the Mandela during December and he never mentioned anything to her about his ailing health.


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