QUNU, South Africa: In Nelson Mandela’s childhood village of Qunu residents are solemnly preparing for the final return of their beloved son, who will be laid to rest among them a week from now.
Elderly men in the picturesque village dotted with traditional round huts bow their heads and lower their voices when they speak of the anti-apartheid hero who has “returned to his ancestors”.
Here there has been no explosion of public emotion as seen in Johannesburg, no singing to celebrate Mandela’s 95 years, no all-night vigils.
His home, overlooking the hills and valleys of the Eastern Cape — where Mandela said he spent his happiest childhood days — is sombre and eerily quiet.
“We are in mourning, he deserves our greatest last respects,” said Chief Mfundo Mtirara, Mandela’s nephew.
Mtirara had the difficult task of breaking the news of Mandela’s death to some close relatives.
“A great man is gone, we are deeply saddened, even though we knew that this day would come,” he said.