Voices from Qunu, Nelson Mandela’s hometown

The village of Qunu, Nelson Mandela's birthplace.  Photo: Matthew Mpahlwa. 
 
As South Africans anxiously waited to hear more news about Nelson Mandela’s health, our Observer travelled to Qunu, a small village in the Eastern Cape that is best known for being the former leader’s hometown. He sent us the following report and photos.
 
The villagers of Qunu received the news of Nelson Mandela’s discharge from the hospital today with joy and relief, although they are anxious to know more about his state.
 
Slimuko Mandela in front of his house. Photo: Matthew Mpahlwa
 
I spoke to his mother’s cousin, Silumko Mandela, 64, who listens to the radio day and night for news of Nelson Mandela's health. He says that if  'Madiba' is in stable condition, it is time for him to return to his hometown. “His people and ancestors are longing for him”, he told me.
 
 Our Observer speaks to Nofungile Cutshalele. Photo: Matthew Mpahlwa
 
Nofungile Cutshalele, 70, remembers Mandela from when she was a young girl in the village. She has no doubt that the leader is in his final days. “He has passed on his chieftainship [from his ancestral clan] to his grandson Mandla, now he can go in peace”, she said.
 
Philani Gebedwana on his horse. Photo: Matthew Mpahlwa
 
The children of the village have a different viewpoint. A boy called Philani Gebedwana  told me that he  didn't want Mandela to die because he sent children of the village clothes at Christmas time.
 
Msizeleni Mjatya. Photo: Matthew Mpahlwa
 
Some villagers blame the media for airing conflicting report’s on Mandela’s health. “At one point we heard on TV that he was dying, then the radio said he was just sick, then that he was out of the hospital”, complained Msizeleni Mjatya,29. He also expressed a desire for Mandela to return to his hometown for his final days.
 
 
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The media often misuses its awareness in small towns.

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