Mandela funeral: Tiny village Qunu braces for elaborate operation

Children run along a towpath on their way to Qunu Junior Secondary School.
Credit: Getty Images

The population of Qunu is just under 300, but a massive invasion is underway ahead of Nelson Mandela’s funeral Sunday, when the Eastern Cape village where Madiba grew up hosts one of the largest events in South African history.

“There is a lot of people and a lot of disruption,” said a spokesperson at the Nelson Mandela Museum, the largest building in Qunu, which has become the site of a marquee for the world’s media.

Much larger temporary structures are being hastily constructed to host the ceremony and its 5,000 guests, with officials admitting work is behind schedule. Eleven venues in the local area will screen the funeral for those unable to attend, with up to 70,000 expected, and accommodation prices have risen sharply across the region.

Roads leading to the village will be blocked, and the local airport in Mthatha will become a no-fly zone, reserved for about 100 private jets transporting dignitaries. “The military will be in control,” announced municipality Mayor Nomakhosazana Meth. “Everything is in order there, and we are ready to warmly welcome our guests.”

Many world leaders and celebrities are expected to attend, including Britain’s Prince Charles and Oprah Winfrey. More than 1,500 members of the media have been accredited. But residents of the village have claimed they are being prevented from attending the funeral because of the visitors.

On Saturday, a military aircraft will take Mandela’s remains from Pretoria to the Eastern Cape. The funeral begins at 9 a.m. Sunday. The ex-president will receive a Christian burial, but also the Xhosa rituals of his community with an address to his spirit.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal mediator joins Met Opera labor talks as…

Unions representing the orchestra and chorus of the Met Opera agreed to have a federal mediator join labor talks on Thursday as a threatened lockout loomed.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

Movies

Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a refreshingly…

Marvel is sitting so high on a cash mountain that it's now thrown $170 million at the relatively obscure and very silly title "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Movies

Review: 'Get on Up' is a war between…

James Brown finally gets his own boring biopic with "Get on Up," but the Godfather of Soul puts up a good fight against the usual cliches.

Movies

Review: 'Child of God' finds director James Franco…

James Franco's 11th directed feature is a noble but sloppy adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," about a feral mountain man (Scott Haze).

Movies

Review: Alex Gibney's Fela Kuti doc 'Finding Fela'…

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Afrobeat god Fela Kuti in "Finding Fela," but fails to capture his unique essence.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…