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
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Going Out

5 things to do in NYC this weekend…

FILM Lebowski Fest Aug. 22-23, 8 p.m. Various locations, Manhattan $20-$30, www.lebowskifest.com The Dude abides — for 48 hours to celebrate the 1998 Coen brothers classic.…

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

Television

Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…