It’s been five years since former president and freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela, died and was buried at his Qunu home outside Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. The whole world watched as thousands paid their respects to the former statesman, who sacrificed his 27 years of his life in prison so that South Africa is a free country. Villagers in the surrounding areas say if he was still alive, socio-economic conditions in the rural areas would have been better.
Nelson Mandela’s burial at Qunu attracted heads of state, world renowned business people, high profile politicians and ordinary people from around the world. Many expected his birth place of Mvezo, his home villages of Qunu and Mqhekezweni, where he grew up, to have economic development, but the villagers are disappointed at the level of poverty. Chief Zanomthetho Mtirara of Mqhekwezeni village, where Nelson Mandela spent 10 years as a teenager, says Madiba had love for everyone irrespective of nationality and class.
“The wishes that Nelson Mandela had were definitely not only for his family, not only for us as the Mqhekezweni community because we are the people who made him, but his wishes would have extended to the wider community, South Africa and the world in general.”
He adds that Mandela wanted clean and quality leadership.
“He always has been insisting on good quality leadership, he always been insisting on leaders that stick up on their promises. He always been constantly reminding of having leaders who are sober, and that can still do whatever it is what is necessary for them to do for the benefit of every human kind.”
Chief Nokwanele Bhalizulu of Qunu village says the community will always miss Nelson Mandela because his heart was so close to the local people.
“Grandfather was not only focusing on building South Africa but the whole world. Mandela was welcoming to the whites, blacks, poor and the rich. Bill Clinton came here and he had a chat with me. He planted trees here in my garden and he never undermined my capacity as a traditional leader. In other words I mean that Mandela wanted to expose me to the important people.”
The chief says Mandela believed in the current president, Cyril Ramaphosa and it was his wish to see him at the helm of the country.
“I really feel pity for the incumbent president Ramaphosa because he came at a very challenging time. He was most loved by grandfather; he mentioned his name almost every time. We just wish him good luck, so that one day he can come here at Qunu and honour Mandela by giving the young people and women a big project in the area of Qunu.”
Bisisiwe Qabisisu, a scrap metal collector, says she is solely dependent on dealing with scrap metal.
“If Tata Mandela was still alive, things would not be like as it is today, we are suffering, we sleep here along the road because we have decided to do this metal recycling business. We have no other option because we have to feed our children and take them to school.”
A number of villagers believe that had Mandela’s grave been opened to the public for viewing, that might contribute to the local economy at Qunu and surrounding areas.
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