Saturday, December 14, 2013

Finally, the world 'frees' Mandela | OSUN DEFENDER

Late Nelson Mandela takes a bow The family and friends of former South African President, Nelson Mandela, will today, ‘set free’, the spirit of the deceased, in his native town of Qunu. During the burial rites, local healers, known as Sangomas, are expected to rattle bones to summon Mandela’s ancestors, in order to grant eternal freedom to the late anti-apartheid hero.

The last act of the long farewell to Mandela will be the smallest of many ceremonies, with about 400 people gathering around the graveside.

There will be few dignitaries, including the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles and former US President, Bill Clinton.

The funeral ceremony will also be witnessed by some officials of the South African government, but the rest would be those who may have been overshadowed by the international nature of events so far – his family, friends and tribe elders. However, the actual burial is strictly a private event, just for the family. This is to ensure that the family and traditional rites are adhered to.

Mandela would be laid to rest at Qunu, a rural village where he spent much of his youth, whose population has been doubled by the media, officials, police and the military in the last few days. The government yesterday reiterated its stance to bar uninvited guests from attending the funeral, after being overwhelmed by people hoping for one last glimpse of South Africa’s first black president.

The government said it would restrict the funeral at Mandela’s house in Qunu to the 4,500 invited guests only, including President Jacob Zuma and some foreign dignitaries. Locals will be barred from showing up at the house because the crowds would be too large, posing safety and security concerns.

“This great icon was a people’s person but unfortunately we have to manage the numbers”, government spokeswoman, Phumla Williams, said.

Three big television screens will be set up around the village for people to watch the funeral, but not the actual burial. Officials said they were also complying with a Mandela family request that the burial be a private event just for the family.

Meanwhile, South African peace icon, Desmond Tutu, has openly criticized the government and members of the Mandela family, for not being invited to his old friend’s burial. Some family members claimed that, Tutu, being a Christian, could not be invited to witness the traditional rituals that will ‘free’ the spirit of the man popularly called Madiba.

“Much as I would have loved to attend the service to say a final farewell to someone I loved and treasured, it would have been disrespectful to Tata to gatecrash what was billed as a private family funeral,” Tutu said in a statement.

“Had I or my office been informed that I would be welcomed, there is no way on earth that I would have missed it.” A Staff said the retired archbishop cancelled a Friday flight to the Eastern Cape, where the funeral will take place, “after receiving no indication that his name was on any guest or accreditation list”.

Tutu’s account of events was at odds with that given by the government of President Jacob Zuma, which the clergyman has criticised repeatedly, and publicly. Amid an outcry, the presidency insisted the anti-apartheid campaigner was on the list of invited dignitaries.

“He is definitely on the list,” presidential spokesman, Mac Maharaj said, saying he was “taken aback” by claims that the Nobel laureate, fondly known as the “Arch” was not invited. “The Arch is not an ordinary church person, he is a special person in our country,” said Maharaj, promising to correct any misunderstanding that may have arisen.

Government spokeswoman, Phumla Williams, told SAPA News agency that Tutu should have phoned.

“With funerals, they don’t send invites, but they do have a list of accredited people, if he had called, we would have given him accreditation… they would never have turned Tutu away. There were no malicious shenanigans,” she said.

Mandela himself was quoted to have said that he couldn’t live a life of prison. “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison”, Mandela was quoted to have said. Nation

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Posted by HAKEEM OGUNYEMI on Dec 15 2013. Filed under AFRICA, ANNOUNCEMENT, Front Page Story, NEWS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry


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