The long walk for water at Mandela’s birthplace

People in Mvezo - Madiba's place of birth - go down to the Mbhashe river to wash their clothes. The village has never had running water and depends on the river or rain water
People in Mvezo - Madiba's place of birth - go down to the Mbhashe river to wash their clothes. The village has never had running water and depends on the river or rain water
Image: LULAMILE FENI

As the global community celebrates the centenary of Nelson Mandela‚ his eldest grandson‚ Nkosi Mandla Zwelivelile Mandela‚ decried the lack of clean water and health services at the former president’s birthplace of Mvezo.

Although the world icon fought to see rural areas being supplied with clean water‚ Mandla said little had changed at Mvezo.

People still share the water resources with pigs and goats. He said they get water from pools or a fountain‚ or must pay R500 to have water carted from the nearby Mbhashe river to fill their water tanks.

Mandla said his community was unhappy that their clinic‚ which was built six years ago and is fully furnished‚ stands unused.

His subjects were paying R60 for transport to the nearest clinic at Nywarha‚ which was contributing to the high number of teenage pregnancies and unsafe sex. Youths could not afford the ride to the clinic to get free government-supplied condoms.

This publication attended a community meeting in Mvezo recently. Community members became emotional when they told how Madiba‚ whose roots were in Mvezo‚ sacrificed his life for the struggle for liberation‚ but 24 years into democracy‚ people living in his village of birth could not tell the difference between the time of oppression and the era of democracy.

“We still share water with pigs and donkeys‚ we still have to use donkeys to ferry water from the river. We have been doing that since the time of the apartheid regime.”

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