Burying Mandela

Burying Mandela

It won’t be long before South Africa buries its democracy’s founding father, Nelson Mandela. He’s had a good innings and achieved close on universal respect and affection across the nation, a unique achievement in our 400 years of battling each and muddling through together. And, of course, Nelson Mandela has stood globally to symbolise racial healing.

His passing will thus be an occasion of worldwide significance and South Africans will want to be ready for the influx of foreign dignitaries wanting to pay their last respects, along with the rest of us. That is all likely to take place near Mandela’s home of Qunu, and the state has been readying for this these past few weeks.

Just a month back, upgrading of roads and bridges in the area was massively boosted, and a fortnight back a “no-fly” zone quietly declared. Mandela’s actual homestead will not be site of his final resting place, and is indeed in a state of calm with even on-site SAPS security more relaxed than normal (it is worryingly easy to enter the place if you really want to without being challenged).

Just up the road at Mvevo is where it’s all happening. The road from the N2 that takes you to the hotel on the hill, the family museum and the cemetery has been paved and no expenses spared, with bridges built, and then blocked. Here security is hectic and it’s impossible to get through.

While the museum is finished and roadworks are now almost ready, they’re not there yet, and the hotel still needs finishing. Work carries on apace, but one senses that some time is still required before any death may be convenient.

–          Paul Pereira