QUNU, South Africa (AP) — The rural home where Nelson Mandela grew up in the 1920s had mud walls, a grass thatched roof, and a floor polished smooth with cow dung. When throngs flood Mandela’s hometown on Sunday for his burial, they will visit a simple place steeped in old ways but which now has become the center of a massive state operation to honor the anti-apartheid leader.
Construction workers were scrambling to finish preparations for the mourners. On Mandela’s sprawling property, workers were erecting a temporary seating structure. Road crews hurried to finish paving a new highway in front of Mandela’s home that runs from Qunu, the hometown, to Mthatha, the city with the nearest airport in Eastern Cape province.
Military helicopters flew around the area on Friday, and security forces patrolled roads. Some units practiced drills ahead of a ceremony to welcome Mandela’s casket on Saturday after it is transferred from Pretoria, the capital. President Jacob Zuma has authorized the deployment of 11,900 military servicemen to assist police in maintaining order during the funeral service.
Armored military vehicles ring Mandela’s fence-lined property. A yellow earth mover smoothed a dirt road behind Mandela’s house, near where two dozen cows graze.
Most of Qunu lags the modern world by a few decades. Many houses, painted green, pink and yellow, are one-room structures with tin or straw roofs. Many have outhouses.
Mandela first began to shepherd animals and use a slingshot, around the age of 5, in Qunu. Today, sheep, goats and cows leisurely cross a two-lane highway and smaller dirt roads.
The several hundred residents considered Mandela a neighbor, foremost. On a recent day, Malwande Mazwi strolled with stilted, uneven steps past the fence of Mandela’s modern compound. The 24-year-old leaned heavily on two sticks, crutches he’s used since he first contracted polio as a child.
Mazwi illustrates how in Qunu, education and health standards lag. Mazwi lives only 100 yards (meters) behind Mandela’s back fence line in structures with thatch and tin roofs. His mother, Nothobile Gamakhulu, hopes one day to afford an operation to straighten his legs. First, though, she would like to buy modern crutches to replace Mazwi’s simple sticks.
Joshua Mzingelwa is the leader of Morians Episcopal Apostolic Church, right next to Mazwi’s house. Dressed in a regal blue robe, Mzingelwa delivered a loud, throaty sermon last week.
“There is still hope in the hardship that you are facing daily,” even with the loss of Mandela, he told the congregation.
Mzingelwa said Qunu needs better health and education services. “It’s not what we would like things to be,” he said, noting that Qunu has only a small, one-room health clinic. But he does not think Qunu, just because it is Mandela’s home, deserves more attention than other towns.
As a boy, Mandela watched his father die of lung cancer on the floor of the family hut without even a visit to a doctor.
Mazwi recalled how the former president, when he walked the village’s dirt roads in the 1990s, would hand him the equivalent of $10. Like many others in Qunu and the surrounding area, Mazwi hopes to attend the Sunday funeral, but he does not know if he will get inside.
“I’d like to see if his funeral will be as dignified as he was,” said Mazwi.
Rolihlahla Mandela attended primary school in Qunu, where the teacher Miss Mdingane, following the local custom to give all school children “Christian” names, assigned him the name Nelson. Now the village hosts a modern school named the Nelson Mandela No-Moscow Primary School, a reference to a Mandela relative, not a snub aimed at Russia.
The town also hosts a Nelson Mandela Museum, where a banner hung after his death quickly filled with tributes.
Mzingelwa, the church leader, spoke of Mandela’s generosity. In his younger years, the former president spread charity around the village. At Christmas he would visit homes and give toys to the underprivileged, said Mzingelwa. Some now fear life will deteriorate without Mandela alive.
In his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom,” Mandela wrote that he believes a man should have a home in sight of where he was born, though that is not literally the case here. Mandela spent his childhood in Qunu but was born in Mvezo, about 10 kilometers (six miles) from Qunu.
Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison during white rule, took some of that experience with him to Qunu. The floor plan of the house, completed in 1993, is based on the house he lived in at the Victor Verster Prison where he spent his last 14 months of incarceration.
“People often commented on this,” Mandela wrote. “But the answer was very simple: the Victor Verster house was the first spacious and comfortable home I ever stayed in, and I liked it very much. I was familiar with its dimensions, so at Qunu I would not have to wander at night looking for the kitchen.”
30 Best Nelson Mandela Quotes
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1. "It always seems impossible until it is done. "-Nelson Mandela
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2. "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination." -Nelson Mandela
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3. "Any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose." -Nelson Mandela
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4. "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." -Nelson Mandela
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5. "After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb." -Nelson Mandela
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6. "Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mind cannot be separated." -Nelson Mandela
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7. "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children." -Nelson Mandela
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8. "In my country we go to prison first and then become President." -Nelson Mandela
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9. "Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement." -Nelson Mandela
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10. "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." -Nelson Mandela
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11. "I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances."-Nelson Mandela
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12. "If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness & Forgiveness."-Nelson Mandela
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13. "Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all."- Nelson Mandela
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14. "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."-Nelson Mandela
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15. "I have retired, but if there's anything that would kill me is to wake up in the morning not knowing what to do. "-Nelson Mandela
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16. "I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people."-Nelson Mandela
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17. "Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another."-Nelson Mandela
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18. "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."-Nelson Mandela
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19. "Give a child love, laughter and peace, not AIDS."-Nelson Mandela
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20. "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner."-Nelson Mandela
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21. "I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities."-Nelson Mandela
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22. "I dream of the realization of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses."-Nelson Mandela
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23. "I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself."-Nelson Mandela
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24. "We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right."-Nelson Mandela
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25. "I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man."-Nelson Mandela
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26. "There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."-Nelson Mandela
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27. "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."- Nelson Mandela
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28. "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered. "-Nelson Mandela
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29. "Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future."-Nelson Mandela
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30. "Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace. "-Nelson Mandela
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Celebrities React to Nelson Mandela's Death Via Social Media
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1. Beyonce Instagrammed this photo with the message: "Thank you for all you have sacrificed to improve the lives of other human beings. Rest in peace."
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2. Beyonce also Instagrammed this photo along with the message: "God Bless"
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3. President Obama Tweeted: President Obama remembers Nelson Mandela: "A man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice."
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4. Rihanna Tweeted: "#NelsonMandela you made your people proud!! We'll always love you for it!"
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5. Rihanna also Instagrammed this photo with the message: One of the greatest men who's ever lived!!! #Legend We will never forget the things this man has taught us, and we will never truly comprehend the level of strength that it took for him to endure many of his years!! Thank you #Mandela.
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6. Queen Latifah Tweeted: "God Bless You Mr. Nelson Mandela! Your Strength, Humanity, Intelligence, Honesty and #TrueGrit are unmatched in my lifetime! RIP&Love."
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7. Jamie Foxx Tweeted: "Thank you for your mark you left on humanity Mr. Mandela. Prayers to his family, friends and the people of South Africa."
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8. Jennifer Lopez Tweeted: "It always seems impossible until it's done." Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela. You will be missed. #trueinspiration #peoplewhochangetheworld."
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9. R. Kelly Tweeted: "To the Mandela family, may God keep you in perfect peace at this time. For God has chosen a soldier. "
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10. Janelle Monae Tweeted: "1 of the most important&greatest individuals to walk on this Earth. Nelson Mandela. He walked the walk. He was 4 THE PEOPLE. Nelson Mandela."
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11. Kerry Washington Instagrammed this photo with the message: "RIP Nelson Mandela. God Bless You."
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12. Khloe Kardashian Tweeted: "An amazing man with great wisdom. Rest in peace Nelson Mandela."
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13. Pitbull Tweeted: "RIP Nelson Mandela. You are now truly free. God Bless and enjoy the heavens. Tell Celia Cruz hello for me and azucaaaaarrrr"
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14. Katie Couric Tweeted: "If people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love." - #NelsonMandela, RIP & may your words live on... "
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15. Ludacris Tweeted: "Honored that I had a chance to meet this amazing influential being & to participate in his 46664 Aids benefit concert in South Africa. You will live on thru your work for eternity. R.I.P. Nelson Mandela."
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16. NeNe Leakes Tweeted: "RIP Nelson Mandela"
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17. Nas tweeted: "Thank you Nelson Mandela. All the best on your transition."
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18. Gwyneth Paltrow Tweeted: "'Your playing small does not serve the world'. #RIPMandela"
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19. Gabourey Sidibe Tweeted: "'The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.' -Nelson Mandela. Thank you for your bravery."
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20. John Legend Tweeted: "What a heroic, beautiful life Mandela lived. Rest in peace."
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21. Samuel L. Jackson Tweeted: "Never met a better person in my life than Nelson Mandela. My sympathy to his family & his country."
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22. Charlize Theron Tweeted: "My thoughts and love go out to the Mandela family. Rest in Peace Madiba. You will be missed, but your impact on this world will live forever"
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23. Diddy Tweeted: "Nelson Mandela has just passed away. Rest In Peace to a true revolutionary and inspiration to the World. He was 95 years old. #RIPMandela."
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24. Diddy also Instagrammed this photo with the message: "This man stood for justice and honor!! Today we lost a beautiful soul, inspiration and a true KING! #RIPMandela."
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25. Kendrick Lamar Tweeted: "Advising all my young ones that follow me to research a small piece of Nelson Mandela Life. That's how you pay your respect...... GO!"
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26. Amerie Tweeted: "Rest in peace to a great, great man. The world thanks you."
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27. Q-Tip Tweeted: "A true fighter in every sense of the word... MANDELA!"
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28. Eva Longoria Tweeted: "Today the world lost one it's greatest leaders. Rest in peace Mandela..."
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29. Russell Simmons Tweeted: "When people are determined they can overcome anything." Nelson Mandela."
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30. Anderson Cooper Tweeted: "Mandela is gone. There is no one else like him."
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31. Brian White Tweeted: "Always remembered! #RoleModel #RIP"
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32. Tyra Banks Tweeted this photo with the message: "He lives within us forever. We will never forget. "
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33. Talib Kweli Tweeted: "Today marks the passing of one of the greatest freedom fighters history has ever known. We love you Nelson Mandela. #ripmadiba."
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34. Wayne Brady Tweeted: "RIP Nelson Mandela. Selfless humanitarian. Leader."
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35. Busta Rhymes Tweeted: "RIP 2 ONE OF OUR LAST TRULY GREAT KINGS AND GOD OF OUR UNIVERSE, THE LATE GREAT NELSON MANDELA!!! I WILL 4EVER LOVE U GREAT MAN & GREAT MIND."
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36. Fergie Tweeted: "Meeting Nelson Mandela at his house in Johannesburg was a truly memorable moment in life for me. He was an angel. "
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37. Omarion Tweeted: "Thank you Mandela #RIPMandela rest in love."
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38. LL Cool J Tweeted: "Nelson Mandela. What a difference one person can make. #RestEternally"
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39. Lindsay Lohan Tweeted: "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination." #RIPNelsonMandela
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40. Luke James: "Thank You Nelson Mandela, Rest In Peace."
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