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August 30, 2011

Madiba settles into hometown Qunu

Cape Argus – South Africa

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Former President Nelson Mandela’s home in the Eastern Cape village of Qunu. It’s believed that Mandela has moved permanently to this house.

August 29 2011 at 12:31pm

VUYO MKIZE

Staff Reporter

A SOUTH African flag sways back and forth from a tall pole inside the yard of former president Nelson Mandela’s home in Qunu.

The flag has been high up on the pole for a little over six weeks, a signal to villagers that Madiba is back in his rural home 30km south-west of Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.

While the country’s beloved elder statesman has retreated to his village home, and rumours abound that his stay may be permanent, sources close to the family insist he is in good health and spirits.

“Tata is very well. He’s fat and looks like he’s happy and in good health. He sits around and watches the cattle around the fields or reads the paper. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with him, he’s looking strong for an old man,” said one village elder close to the family during our visit to the village this weekend.

Zanomthetho Mtirara, the chief of the nearby Mqhekezweni village where Mandela grew up from the age of nine, said he had enjoyed visits with his grandfather since his return to the village, during which they would sit on his lawn and talk.

Mtirara is a grandson of Justice Mtirara, a chief and a son of regent Jongintaba Dalindyebo, who took in Mandela as a child and raised him as his own in Mqhekezweni.

Mandela arrived in the village in time for his 93rd birthday in July on a military aircraft with medical support personnel from the defence force.

Tall grey gates enclose his house alongside the N2, the main road between Mthatha and East London, while a strong contingent of guards maintains security around the homestead.

The chieftainess of Qunu, Nokwanele Balizulu, said that since Madiba’s return, his wife, Graça Machel, had made plans for sustainable development initiatives around the village.

“She (Machel) has initiated a project for the growth of vegetables in the village… I’m excited about this project as this will help our people who live in poverty; it will also help with people’s health,” said Balizulu, who lives across the road from Mandela’s homestead.

There has been no official confirmation whether Madiba’s stay in Qunu will be permanent.

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