The content of this research focuses on two broad themes: The exhumation of three Mandela corpses by Mandla Mandela, and a study on Xhosa and in some instances, specifically Tembu culture and burial tradition. The Mandela family feud will be examined and a study of how traditional Xhosa culture has or has not changed today, as these aspects of the topic are vital aspects of research that will enable allow a conclusion to be drawn about whether Mandla Mandela’s actions were or were not culturally and ethically correct.
According to Maylie (2013: a and b) the Mandela ‘family row’ began in 2011 because Mandla Mandela (Nelson Mandela’s eldest grandson) had the bodies of his uncle, Thembekile ...view middle of the document...
However, the sixteen Mandela family members who filed the case did so years after the bodies had been exhumed from Qunu and reburied in Mvezo, and when questioned about this, made no comment. It is also important to realise that traditionally, in Xhosa culture it is considered best to be buried where you were born (Ngqulana, 2013). Nelson Mandela was born in Mvezo in 1918, and moved to Qunu when he was 2 years old (Maylie, 2013). If Mandla Mandela had wished to justify his actions, he could have claimed that he was simply following tradition by making way for his grandfather to be buried in Mvezo, his birthland, with his children and grandchildren. Mandla Mandela excused his actions by stating that he had ‘promised his grandfather he would improve the lives of those in Mvezo through development’ and that ‘the museum [was] a part of that effort.’ (Maylie, 2013).
Although having Nelson Mandela’s body buried in Mvezo would be a lucrative tourist attraction, it would generate income that, if used for the benefit of the Mvezo community, would indeed ‘improve [their] lives’ (Maylie, 2013 ). Mandla Mandela’s spokesman, Freddy Pilusa, said Mandla Mandela had in the past said he wouldn't oppose ‘a repatriation of the remains’ (Maylie, 2013 ). implying that he was acting ethically and honourably and wasn’t attempting to force any family member or elder to support his actions.
However, in anger, Mandla Mandela later began slandering his relatives, calling several ‘illegitimate’ offspring (Maylie, 2013 ). King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo of the Thembu tribe, the clan to which the Mandela family belong, threatened to confiscate Mandla Mandela’s chieftancy as he felt he was ‘bringing shame on the family’ (Starkey, 2013).
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, reacting in response to the family feud said: ‘Please, please, please may we think not only of ourselves…It's almost like spitting in Madiba's face.’ (Maylie, 2013 ). He implied that fighting amongst themselves and (in Mandla’s case) acting in self-interest, was dishonouring all Mandela stood for in a personal capacity.
From the above study of the Mandela family feud, one can clearly see that the actions of Mandla Mandela were unethical because he acted in self-interest: he did not seek the permission of the Mandela family or village elders to exhume the Mandela corpses and rebury them in Mvezo. Madiba’s desire (stated legally in his will) was to be buried with his children and grandchildren in their original burial site of Qunu. However, it was Mvezo, not Qunu that was Madiba’s birthplace, and so Madiba broke a Xhosa burial tradition. Mandla took advantage of Madiba’s wish to be buried with his children, by exhuming the bodies and reburying them in Mvezo, MANDLA MANDELA’S chief lands. Because Madiba is considered a hero of The Struggle against Apartheid world-wide, many people would wish to come and visit his grave on pilgrimage to honour him. This is why Mandla built a visitor’s centre-as chief of Mvezo and owner...