Qunu misses Mandela memorial service

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AFP

A boy walks past a poster of late South African former president Nelson Mandela near Nelson Mandela's former home in Qunu. Picture: Carl de Souza

Qunu, Eastern Cape -

Teenagers from Nelson Mandela's hometown of Qunu in the Eastern Cape voiced disappointment on Tuesday about not being able watch a memorial service in his honour.

“We are disappointed. We are very disappointed,” 16-year-old Zikona Qukula said after rain disrupted arrangements for the screening.

“It was our last chance to see Tata, to see his pictures.”

Ayakha Bida shared the sentiment as they sat in a dining hall of the Nelson Mandela Museum in the village.

“I was looking forward to hearing more about him, because I don't know everything,” Bida said.

The memorial service was held at the FNB stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg, and was attended by world leaders, international celebrities and thousands of South Africans.

Bida said she wanted to share the knowledge she would have gained from the memorial service with others who could not make it.

Both girls said they would remain hopeful that the funeral would be screened live on Sunday and that the problems would be fixed.

Samkele Feni, 15, said: “We loved him very much, that's why we are disappointed not to have watched.”

The viewing was scheduled to take place on the grass in front of the museum, but people who arrived in the morning found nothing happening. A white marquee was being set up on the grass, but there were no monitors, and no chairs.

Museum management later told Sapa that the marquee would be used as the media centre and that the viewing, arranged by government, was supposed to take place on the field next to it.

“The public viewing area was not planned to be at the Nelson Mandela Museum,” marketing manager Nolazola Tetani explained.

“It was planned to be located on the land next to the museum.”

She said when they realised late on Monday evening that no preparations had been made they called the public works department, who said it had been cancelled.

Museum management then decided to set up in their sports hall, with a capacity of 500, but a technical problem sank this plan.

On Tuesday morning, a group of schoolchildren, accompanied by their teachers, arrived for the public viewing. They took their place in the hall, but saw only a message on the screen: “Please wait a few minutes for your subscription to be verified... .”

After about an hour later a prayer service started in the hall in Xhosa. About 100 people were there.

During the service in the hall the connection was established and the interfaith service being held in Johannesburg appeared on the screen, and the children sang and danced.

Despite technicians being on hand the signal was lost a minute later. People continued with their own prayer service while the children left to play outside.

After the prayer service ended at 2.50pm everyone went home in the fog and drizzle. - Sapa


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