Great grandson tells of jokes, inspiration

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A science and technology school built in Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape, was inspired by former president Nelson Mandela, his grandson Mandla said. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Mvezo - Jokes, laughter and inspiration were some of the fondest memories 19-year-old Mayibuye Mandela has of his great-grandfather former president Nelson Mandela.

“My greatest memory of Dhalibhunga (the praise name for Mandela) is sharing jokes, laughing and the inspiration we as a family got from him,” Mayibuye said on Wednesday in Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape.

“The old man always told us that we must go to school, because education was the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world. He didn’t just say that to the Mandelas, but to everyone globally.

“That is why everyone feels sad about great-grandfather’s passing on earth, because he was not just a father for the Mandelas, but for the whole nation. He was there for the world.”

Sitting reminiscing on the stoep of Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela's homestead in Mvezo, Mayibuye said it was special that one man could touch the hearts of so many people around the world.

Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, on Thursday night, at the age of 95. His official funeral will be held in Qunu, about 30km from Mvezo, on Sunday.

Mayibuye Mandela said he was especially touched that people had travelled from overseas as soon as they heard of the death of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

'When they heard the icon had passed, they stopped what they were doing and they came. It shows respect and how grateful they are for what Dhalibhunga did.”

The best way to honour Mandela and to ensure his legacy lived on was to follow in his footsteps and to ensure his spirit could live on, the 19-year-old said as he stared into the open fields under a light rain.

“We need to make sure his legacy continues. Long live the spirit of Madiba. We must use the freedom Dhalibhunga fought for,” he said.

“We must be grateful and respect what he did for us.”

He said he was determined to follow in Mandela’s footsteps and planned to study political science at university because he wanted to be a politician to bring about even more change.

He said he was currently attending Qunu Junior Secondary School, the same school his great-grandfather attended.

“I want to follow the footsteps of the old man.”

He said that growing up with the Mandela surname was something that made him really proud and happy, because he knew his great-grandfather had fought for a better future for everyone.

“He was the father to everyone,” Mayibuye said, smiling.

Speaking about the memorial service held on Tuesday at FNB Stadium, in Johannesburg, and which was attended by world leaders and celebrities, the young Mandela said it made him happy to see and hear great leaders like US President Barack Obama speak about his great-grandfather.

“It was amazing and made me very happy, but on the other side I was sad because the tree has fallen,” he said.

“Barack Obama quoted Dhalibhunga. That shows that even the global community learned from the old man that we must do the right thing and respect everyone the same.

“Knowing my great grandfather touched so many people including leaders like Obama makes me very happy.”

He said he could relate to Obama’s speech because it was important to him as the great-grandchild of Madiba for people to take his legacy forward and to build on what he left behind.

He was amazed that the elders in Mvezo had braved the rainy and cold weather without shelter to watch the live screening of the memorial service together outside in a field.

“What he (Mandela) preached inside the house in Qunu, he also preached to everyone. So I am sure everyone learned something from my great grandfather, like we did as a family.”


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