15 December 2013

South Africa: Painful to Watch: Mvezo Residents

Mvezo — The funeral of former president Nelson Mandela on Sunday was sad to watch for villagers at Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape, where he was born.

"It was very painful to watch," Matuna Matuna said.

"It brought back memories of all the things he did. The man fought for us. We are free, thanks to him," he said.

Locals came to watch a broadcast of the funeral, which took place at Qunu, about 22km away, where Mandela spent much of his childhood.

A big screen was set up at the soccer field in the village.

David Martin and his wife drove more than 45km from Bomvana village to Mvezo to pay their last respects. The couple also drove to Pretoria to see Mandela's body.

"We were fortunate to see him lying in state and it brought home that he was gone. That was saying goodbye. Here we feel a bit removed," Martin said.

Despite feeling as if the locals had not been given an opportunity to see the body and attend the funeral, he understood why things turned out the way they had.

"It was a bit unrealistic to believe the funeral would be done traditionally, as Madiba is a man of the world. It is important for us to know he was a leader of the international community," he said.

He said the pain the family was feeling was felt throughout the world.

The funeral symbolised the unity for which Mandela fought.

"What was significant is to see an army of different races carrying his casket and burying him. [It is] symbolic of the last 20 years and we are seeing the rewards of his sacrifices," he said.

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