Welcome to the Nelson Mandela Digital Archive Project. Our aim is to locate, document, digitise, and provide access to all archival materials related to Nelson Mandela. This is a work in progress. Here is a selection of materials arranged in exhibits for your enjoyment.
The BBC was busy with the production of the programme, 30 Days with Madiba.
They had arrived in Qunu to film in the area, and my grandfather asked me to take the film crew down to the family cemetery. But because the programme was called 30 days with Madiba, as a family we felt he had to be there to explain the significance of the graves, himself.
I accompanied my grandfather to the family graves where, upon our arrival, we went and stood before the grave of my great-grandfather, Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela. Having saluted Nkosi Mphakanyiswa, the old man went on to explain to the BBC that this was his father’s grave, and then he pointed out his mother’s grave, Nkosikazi Nosekeni Fanny Mandela, as well as that of the great wife, MaNyawuza Mandela.
As soon as he had informed the journalists who was buried in the cemetery he was asked the question, “Is this where you will be buried, Mr Mandela?” Although he was already an elderly man, for the first time in my life I was forced to contemplate my grandfather’s mortality. He immediately turned to me and said, “You must make sure that this is where I am buried. I should be here next to my father. This is where I belong.”
This was one of the most profound messages my grandfather has ever given me. He was telling me that to us, as the Madibas, this place of our ancestors was a holy place.
I felt at that moment, in the presence of our ancestors, a clear succession baton being passed over. My grandfather was not only unmasking the reality that one day he would join his ancestors, here, he was also taking the opportunity to send a clear instruction to me, as the heir of the family.
He was telling me that as a man of this house of the Mandelas, it was my duty to ensure that the family traditions were protected and preserved.
My grandfather has lived his many years away from home. But on this particular day he was clear as never before where he belonged and where his roots lay.