Young and old remember Madiba

2013-12-08 10:28
(Werner Beukes, Sapa)

(Werner Beukes, Sapa)

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Qunu - Young and old paid tribute to former president Nelson Mandela in the Eastern Cape on Saturday visiting both his home in Qunu and the Nelson Mandela museum.

An emotional South African-born US citizen Sara Joffe said it was an honour to be in the country and to mourn with South Africans.

"I feel very, very sad about Mandela's death, and I am grateful to be here at this time. I have always hugely admired Madiba," said a tearful Joffe.

"It's an incredible honour to be here. I needed to be here in Qunu to somewhat feel connected to him."

She said she had received a lot of messages from people in the US expressing their sadness, and saying that the news had made headlines in the US ever since it was announced on Thursday.

Americans saw Mandela as a hero and an amazing leader, and people had put him on a pedestal.

"It's just amazingly special to be here. I can hardly breathe," Joffe said.

Ten-year-old Honeymoon Bulela visited Mandela's house and the museum with her mother and sister, and said it made her happy to see his house.

"I'm sad that he [Mandela] is dead because he loved and was fond of children. He didn't like children being hurt," she said.

"I feel happy being here and seeing how he grew up."

Her mother Nolundi Manga said her daughters became interested in Mandela's life from watching television documentaries.

"I want to also show them what Mandela went through in his life," she said.

She said that, staying in Mthatha, it was important to take the drive to join South Africans from across the country.

The heap of flowers outside the main gate to the house grew as the day progressed. Visitors also took pictures of the house.

Sixolile Mqomboti brought his nephews and nieces.

Although they were probably too young to remember the visit, the pictures he took would remind them in future.

"They don't know anything at the moment, but this a historic moment for our country," he said.

There was a heavy military presence at the house, with at least 10 armoured vehicles parked outside for most of the day.

Soldiers with firearms marched on the N2, past the house, to their assembly point.

The vehicles left shortly after 15:00 for Mthatha, leaving behind police and emergency services vehicles.

Two trucks arrived loaded with the material needed to erect stages.

Children played and walking up and down a side roads where the media had parked. The media contingent outside the house was also growing.

Police on horseback were patrolling the streets of the village.

The N2, which is the main road to and from Qunu, has been closed for a few kilometres before and after Mandela's house.

Meanwhile, roadworks on the N2 continued, with workers filling potholes.

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  mthatha

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