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Preserving important history on Nelson Mandela Day

July 13, 2011

Nelson Mandela Museum staff and friends this year continue where they left off on Nelson Mandela Day 2010, creating awareness, protecting and preserving seminal sites associated with Mr Nelson Rolihlalhla Mandela’s development in the Transkei villages where he was raised.

Last year, the rondawel where Mr Mandela lived in the village of Mqhekezweni – at The Great Place, under the regent, Jongintaba – was renovated in an exercise that doubled as a practical lesson for particpants in the age-old art of earth-building.

This year, to celebrate Nelson Mandela Day, the museum will be undertaking a series of three activities:

  1. The site of the ruins of the old single-room Qunu Primary School, the first school attended by Mr Mandela, is to be cleared, the ruins clearly demarcated and an interpretive signboard erected. The ruins will be surrounded by wooden poles, each bearing one of the letters making up the name, “Nelson”, the Christian name the young Rolihlahla Mandela was given by his teacher on his first day of school.
  2. The imbizo site, under the tall trees at The Great Place in Mqhekezweni, bears another key Madiba footprint. It was from listening to the discussions of the elders under these trees, Mr Mandela recalled many years later, that he learned lessons about history and leadership. Horticulturists from Walter Sisulu University will apply their minds to the long-term preservation of the trees, themselves. And logs will be laid down in traditional imbizo formation under the trees, each log bearing one of the letters making up the name, “Dalibhunga”, the name that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela received during his stay in Mqhkezweni, after undergoing initiation.
  3. Finally, in a random act of kindness, and continuing the practical lesson in earth-building begun last year, a rondawel belonging to an elderly woman in Qunu, Mrs Nodanile Mqandelana, has been selected for renovation.

Schools particpating in the programme include St Johns College, Holy Cross High School, Qunu Junior Secondary School, Mqhekezweni Junior Secondary School, Jongintaba Senior Secondary School, Bhalizulu Junior Secondary School, Dalindyebo High School and Milton Mbekela High School.

CEO of the Nelson Mandela Museum, Mr Kwezi Ka Mpumlwana, said the museum’s location in the authentic landscape of Mr Mandela’s development – with sites in Mthatha and Qunu – came with particular responsibilities to work with local communities to acknowledge and preserve important local history.

“We are witnessing more and more scholars and heritage tourists coming to the area to view these pieces of history. We have a duty assist local communities, who are the custodians of this history, to preserve it, to ensure that it is still there for generations to come.,” Mr Mpumlwana said.

The programme for the day on Monday 18 July 2011 starts early, at 6am, at the old school site. At 11am, the focus shifts to Mqhekezweni.

Media is invited. For more information please call the Nelson Mandela Museum’s Ms Nokuzola Tetani on 0824834643.

This statement was released by Oryx Media for:

The Nelson Mandela Museum

Bhunga Building, Mthatha &

Youth and Heritage Centre, Qunu

Corner Owen Str & Nelson Mandela Dr

P.O Box 52808, Mthatha, 5100

Tel (047) 532 5110 Fax (047) 532 3345


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