Yem-Yem’s tributes

2013-12-13 00:00

THE people of Qunu called him Yem-Yem, Baba and Dalibunga — anything but “Nelson” — when they got their chance to write farewell messages to their patriarch yesterday.

But a few weren’t yet ready to let Nelson Mandela go, with one saying “We miss you pleez come back” — while another was bitter with regret: “I never got a chance to say goodnight”.

Writing on two vast sheets of white canvas at the Nelson Mandela Museum, hundreds of Mandela’s fellow villagers — mostly the teenagers — revealed a striking array of affectionate names in their messages. They included “Dlomo”; “Daddy”; “Madiba” and “Papa” — among the children, even “Mandiba” was common — but “Tata” and his local clan name Yem-Yem was how most in his rural village addressed the former president.

Bonani Mnywele, a 21-year-old student in Qunu, said that, like many others, she had been unable to deliver a “rest in peace” card to Mandela’s front gates.

“So it was great to be able to write my message to him in this way; to let him know how I felt,” she said. “He shook my hand in 1999; I’ll never forget it.”

Within a half-hour frenzy of written emotion at the “wall of tributes”, Lundi Mtyankulu wrote: “God has revealed secrets to you”.

The Ndaba family said: “Yem-Yem you are our hero”; and one boy, Simphiwe Ngese, wrote: simply “Gud night daddy”.

Some were poetic: “May the songs we sing accompany you to paradise”; others were philosophical — like “The whole world has lost someone — but we accept, if it’s the Lord’s will” — and even fatalistic: “Death is something inevitable”.

But most echoed the message of a young person who wrote: “We luv u Tata Mandiba very mush”.

And virtually none mentioned the word “president”; instead focusing on Mandela’s roles as “teacher” and “father”.

Fumanekile Wisani, curator of the panels for the museum, said he had encouraged visitors to write their notes in their home languages, and that the wall featured tributes in German, Venda and Dutch, and drawings.

Wisani said his favourite was a message penned by a man who had travelled from Limpopo. Modiri Teku wrote: “Hamba kahle Mkhonto we Sizwe”.

One mischievous tribute-giver hid an electioneering plug in his tightly written script: “We will unite now as blacks and whites and vote for ANC”.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.