Thursday, February 22, 2018
News Roundup

Mandela makes final journey home in South Africa

QUNU, South Africa

Nelson Mandela came home Saturday.

A hearse carrying Mandela's body drove into his hometown in rural South Africa ahead of burial today, returning the country's peacemaker to the place where he had always wanted to die.

It was here in Qunu that Mandela roamed the hills and tended livestock as a youth, absorbing lessons about discipline and consensus from traditional chiefs. From here he embarked on a journey — the "long walk to freedom" as he put it — that thrust him to the forefront of black South Africans' struggle for equal rights that resonated around the world.

As motorcyclists in uniform and armored personnel carriers escorted the vehicle carrying Mandela's casket to the family compound, people lining the route sang, applauded and, in some cases, wept.

"When I saw the hearse passing, I couldn't hold my excitement. I felt like I was holding him by the hand," said Norma Khobo. "It was very exciting, I saw him!"

The vehicle carrying Mandela's casket, covered with a national flag, arrived at the family compound under cloudy skies. It was accompanied by an enormous convoy of police, military and other vehicles, and a military helicopter hovered overhead.

According to Xhosa tribal tradition, Mandela was honored as a leader by placing a skin on the coffin, replacing the flag.

Mandela's journey started Saturday with pomp and ceremony at an air base in the capital before being flown aboard a military plane to this simple village in the wide-open spaces of eastern South Africa.

At the Mthatha airport Mandela's casket was welcomed by a military guard and placed in a convoy for the 20-mile voyage toward Qunu. Residents and people who had traveled for hours thronged a road leading to Qunu, singing and dancing as Mandela T-shirts were handed out.

Mandela's widow, Graca Machel, and his former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, tearfully embraced at Mthatha airport when the casket arrived.

Mandela had been imprisoned for 27 years for opposing racist apartheid and emerged in 1990 to forge a new democratic South Africa by promoting forgiveness and reconciliation. He became president in 1994 after South Africa's first all-race democratic elections.

The late president died in his Johannesburg home Dec. 5 at age 95.

His body lay in state for three days last week, drawing huge crowds of South Africans who mourned his death and celebrated his successful struggle against apartheid.

Mandela had longed to spend his final months in his beloved rural village but instead he had spent them in a hospital in Pretoria and then in his home in Johannesburg where he had remained in critical condition, suffering from lung problems and other ailments, until his death.

A problem that threatened to mar the funeral appeared to be resolved late Saturday night when Archbishop Desmond Tutu's spokesman said the Nobel Prize-winning cleric would attend today's funeral in Qunu. Earlier Tutu said that he would not attend because he had not been invited or accredited as a clergyman. Spokesman Roger Friedman did not say what brought about the change in Tutu's plans.

In Qunu, residents expressed deep affection for Mandela, their beloved native son.

"Long live the spirit of Nelson Mandela," chanted a crowd on a highway near Mandela's compound.

"My president," they sang.

There were also old songs of the antiapartheid struggle.

"Release Mandela from prison," went the chorus of one.

Khanyisa Qatolo, 28, was born in Qunu and attended children's Christmas parties hosted by Mandela at his home when she was a child in the 1990s.

"I remember his smile," she said. "I miss his smile."

Comments

Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida man yells ‘murderers!’ as he’s executed for slaying

Florida man yells ‘murderers!’ as he’s executed for slaying

Associated PressSTARKE — An inmate convicted of raping and killing a college student decades ago screamed and yelled "murderers!" three times, thrashing on a gurney as he was being put to death Thursday. The governor’s office said Eric Scott Branch, ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Deputy ‘never went in’ during Parkland school shooting. There were other failures, too

Deputy ‘never went in’ during Parkland school shooting. There were other failures, too

Eight days after mass shooter Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Broward’s top cop on Thursday revealed a stunning series of failures by the sheriff’s department.A school campus cop heard the gunfire, rushed ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — The mayor and the police chief came to Northeast High on Thursday to warn students about the dangers of circulating rumors of school safety threats on social media.While they were there, one of those unfounded rumors popped up on Fac...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Administrator Haley Loeun fired from CareerSource jobs centers

Administrator Haley Loeun fired from CareerSource jobs centers

Haley Loeun, a top aide to the embattled leader of the Pinellas and Hillsborough jobs boards, was fired Thursday from her $130,000-a-year position as business services director.Loeun came under criticism after the Tampa Bay Times reported that employ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
V.M. Ybor: That’s not cigar smoke you’re smelling

V.M. Ybor: That’s not cigar smoke you’re smelling

TAMPA — Across Interstate 4 from Ybor City’s nightlife, another part of the historic neighborhood has an odor less nostalgic — and much less pleasant — than cigar smoke and roasting coffee beans.V.M. Ybor, named after the Spaniard who founded the cit...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Donald Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the president’s call last summer for a ban on all transgender service, acc...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

After an emotionally draining day that captured national attention — the massive rally in Tallahassee and a small, tearful gathering of survivors at the White House — CNN’s Wednesday night town hall on the Parkland shooting could have easily been ove...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

A St. Louis grand jury has indicted Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on a felony invasion of privacy charge related to the Republican’s affair with a woman in 2015. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced the indictment Thursday. She launched an ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Second stripper, same commissioner: Hernando County official’s home site of domestic dispute

Second stripper, same commissioner: Hernando County official’s home site of domestic dispute

SPRING HILL — Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson is in the midst of another personal controversy that is reminiscent of his relationship several years ago with a stripper who used drugs.A couple who rents a room in Nicholson’s home got into ...
Updated: 5 hours ago