The road to Mandela's burial ground

  • 14 December 2013
  • From the section Africa

On Sunday, Nelson Mandela will be buried in the the remote village of Qunu in South Africa's Eastern Cape. The BBC's Fergal Keane has spent several days heading to the same location, meeting a range of people en route.

Keane tweeted his trip, using the tag #MandelaJourney and captured some of what he saw, and who he met, on video. Below, you can follow his journey through a selection of his tweets and films.

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Sunday 8 December

#MandelaJourney Heading west into the Platteland. The radio playing non stop tributes from public figures and songs eulogizing Madiba

A bright blue sky as we pass through a land of mine dumps and farmland.The great AngloGold Imponeng mine to our right

This land rolling to the west, towards Botswana, was the scene of some of the most bitter clashes of the AngloBoerWar

In modern times it has been the stronghold, then the last redoubt, of extreme Afrikaner nationalism in the form of the AWB

Of course vital to remember extremists only ever represented a minority of a minority in transition period.

The Dutch Reformed Church at Ventersdorp [below] ahead of day of reflection and prayer for Nelson Mandela.

Dutch Reformed Church at Ventersdorp

A minutes silence now in church. This town often caricatured as a right wing hotbed. Yet today I saw Afrikaner church...

...stand in respectful silence for a man once denounced as a terrorist. Remember too this was the church of apartheid.

@BISGovPolEcon Some things have changed but long way to go. But astonishing nonetheless to see mins silence in town infamous for AWB

Near Ventersdorp afternoon rain looming. Recall violence in 91 and army convoy heading to town. Sense of fear and then...

...Bob Marley's No Woman No Cry came on car radio. Uplifting.

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Tuesday 10 December

About to leave Joburg again and heading to E Cape. Rain and wind here in Jozi.

Hard weather for the mourners gathering for memorial service

Landed at a very wet East London.Lusanda at FirstCar hire tells me how much she misses Madiba.Working so unable 2 watch...

memorial service. She born in 1980s just as first gr8 upheavals against apartheid began. E Cape v radical back then

At East London City Hall portrait of Madiba + beneath the statue of Steve Biko-murdered long before he could see liberation

Boos for Zuma interesting and v S African: politically passionate nation...

...there is a long history here of memorial services acting as focus for political feeling

I recall demo for murdered Chris Hani in 93.Madiba at times struggled to b heard over chanting of young activists...

...Tokyo Sexwale then stood and calmed crowd by leading them in struggle chants before insisting on discipline

This is a really thoughtful nuanced piece on #Zuma and #MandelaMemorial RT … /via @HamiltonWende

Just had beautiful moment on road. Met Zukile Manyela and his wife Vuyo.He's friend of my good friend Fr Ted Molyneaux,

Irish priest in New Brighton township Port Elizabeth. Took me on 1st trip into riot hit townships in 1994.Knew Biko and...

...stood up to security police. Zukile was his altar helper. Zukile says of seeing Mandela once: he was faraway onstage but...

...but still inside of me. We talked for an hour. Different memories of apartheid days. Zukile+Vuyo [below]


Today showed what a complex country SA is and always has been despite often simplistic portrayals.

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Wednesday 11 December

Passing memorial to Bisho massacre near King WilliamsTown - 28 people shot dead here by homeland police in Sept 92.

Spoke to businessman Tsepo Daniels in King WilliamsT.Told me:we have lost, not a politician but a father figure

Black and white officers in Mthatha today [Below]

Black and white officers in Mthatha

At Temba HIV/AIDS shelter in Mthatha nurse Pumla Makrwede [below] recalls meeting Madiba in 94

Pumla Makrwede

Pumla says he told her to work "with my heart... to love the people I help."

Michael Mkhonwana [below], aged 24, one of many people I've met in E Cape who feel SA has lost a...

Michael Mkhonwana

...reassuring moral presence. Concern about current ANC leadership a constant when u ask pple about SA after Mandela

Rainlands [below] - the E Cape in the days before Madiba comes home

E Cape

Passed 5 crashes in 24hrs then got bashed a police vehicle! Nobody hurt but reminder SA roads can b v dangerous...

...waiting hours for other cops 2 come take statement.Rainy+dark.Cameraman Tony Fallshaw driving car behind me that was hit

The cops have now arrived and taking statements in the rainy dark. Relief nobody hurt. All part of the journey

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Thursday 12 December

Ahead of Madiba funeral the sun shines at last in E Cape
Flowers and sun

Celebrating a local hero. Singing for Madiba in Maydene township

Township singer
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Friday 13 December

A pair of fighter jets making repeated passes over Mthatha right now

Read Mark Gevisser here - one of most astute analysts of modern SA … /via

Am told fighter jets practicing fly past for funeral on Sunday

And again today hearing lots of dissatisfaction with current leadership when we ask about SA post-Mandela.

Mthatha where cortège due 2moro now full of security. Police convoy just went past in blur of sirens+blue flashing lights

Many people telling us they going to stadium here in Mthatha rather than trying to get out the road to Qunu...

Tell us no transport and fear they'll see nothing at Qunu. Local soccer stadium will b mourning site for many locals