Should Mandela's grave be public?

2013-12-17 14:29
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Reconciliation Day Walk in 12 great pics

Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille renamed the Fan Walk on Reconciliation Day to the Walk of Remembrance, as people came together to honour the legacy of the late Nelson Mandela.

Cape Town - South Africa's ten-day period of national mourning for former president Nelson Mandela has just ended.

For the nation there is still much to deal with but an irrational sense of optimism and renewed unity, palpable during many a proud moment of the mourning period, has punctuated what has been an emotional and sometimes embarrassing time for South Africa.  

That being said, the ten days have without a doubt not been nearly enough time for the bereaved Mandela family - and it is probably way too soon to even expect them to share Mandela's grave with the world, if at all, as the family had previously hinted the site will remain a private shrine.

But it's a question on the minds of most people: Should Mandela's grave be opened to the public?

The Nelson Mandela Museum’s Marketing Manager Nokuzola Tetani said: “The family have given no indication regarding access to the grave site which is off limits at the moment and I have no further information. The Museum remains open and we are running our half-day tours as per normal.”

Following the logistical and protocol arrangements for Madiba’s state funeral on Sunday, the government has made no announcement on the status of the grave site either.

Mandela’s relatives had "been very generous" in the past in allowing the public access to the family farm at Qunu, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane had said a day before the burial.

"It will be for them to decide, if after the funeral, after a period of mourning, they want to allow some form of access."

Architect, Greg Straw, employed to design the gardens around Mandela's grave suggested it may ultimately be opened to the public, stating that the 3.2ha garden could eventually be opened to the public, mentioning the likelihood of a museum at the foot of the hill on which the grave is perched.

Straw described the winding path around the garden, designed to lead visitors along Mandela's "long walk" to freedom.

The path stretches about 1.2km from the foot of the hill to Mandela's final vantage point.

"Every time you go and pay your respects you walk through the life and times of Madiba," Straw said, using Mandela's clan name.

"You walk along a flat portion of the hill while everything was calm and then when he got incarcerated, it turns the corner and the pathway starts winding up the hill through the times of the struggle and it gets to the top of the hill when he got released," Straw said.

"So the pathway tells the story, and physically tells the story."

While visitors to Qunu cannot access the grave site they have the option to join a local village tour to experience the authentic landscape of Madiba's birthplace as well as visit the small hut that Mandela slept in during his teenage years in Mqekezweni as well as the remains of his mother's hut in Qunu.

The museum says the sites dotted across the hill top near Mbashe are essentially a self-guided experience.

"Mandela insisted the museum was not just to be a static collection and tribute to him, but a living memorial to his values and vision.

"It is to inspire and enrich all who visit it, serve as a catalyst for development, and should share the heritage resources linked to him."

The museum's collections and multimedia exhibitions include a display of Mandela's life-long struggle for freedom and  give visitors insight into the road Mandela walked to lead South Africa to democracy.

Read more on:    east london  |  travel

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