Qunu is where Nelson Mandela has acknowledged he spent the happiest years of his youth, diligently doing his herd-boy duties, playing in the river and sailing down the “Sliding Stone”.
When Nelson’s father was persecuted and deposed as Mvezo chief by the white magistrate their family took refuge at Qunu. It is the place where the young Rolihlahla in colonial tradition was named Nelson on his first day at school.
Qunu today is a cluster of villages surrounded by open veld and rolling hills. The hills and valleys are covered with lush green grass and dotted with herds of cattle and flocks of sheep and goats. A cock crow wakes up the community and at sunset the herdsmen bring the cattle to the Qunu river to drink, where the young Nelson enjoyed swimming and enriching his imagination with the games played at the riverbank.
The young boys today run the scattered roads - expertly whistling high notes - to the semi-equipped soccer playgrounds to play or cheer their peers. Alternatively, the smooth sloping granite stones provide a natural playground or roller coaster.
The community of Qunu is very hospitable and prepared to share their experiences and the story of their favourite son. They still continue to do subsistence farming using traditional practises.
The Nelson Mandela Youth and Heritage Centre is located at Qunu and comprises the second component of the Nelson Mandela museum.
Qunu comes alive during the Festive season as Madiba himself hosts a children’s Christmas party, which is a highlight of the year.