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Last resting place of a South African hero: Inside Nelson Mandela's home village where life continues in the same way as it did when ailing 94-year-old was a child

  • Small cemetery in Qunu will be where Nelson Mandela is buried
  • 'It does not look much for a man who had so much influence' says local
  • Former president's parents and children are buried in graveyard
  • 94-year-old anti-apartheid hero is being treated for recurring lung infection

By Anthony Bond

PUBLISHED: 04:10 EST, 15 June 2013 | UPDATED: 05:00 EST, 15 June 2013

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With headstones knocked over, holes in the ground and farmyard animals grazing nearby, this overgrown graveyard looks in desperate need of attention.

The half-acre site is approached down a small dirt track, on which chickens, cows and goats roam freely.

But despite its appearance, this small cemetery in Qunu, in South Africa's Eastern Cape, will one day become the focus of the world's attention. It is in the home village of Nelson Mandela, and will be his final resting place.

Home: This small cemetery in Qunu, in South Africa's Eastern Cape, will one day become the focus of the world's attention - it will be the final resting place of Nelson Mandela

Home: This small cemetery in Qunu, in South Africa's Eastern Cape, will one day become the focus of the world's attention - it will be the final resting place of Nelson Mandela

Tradition: As a former president, Mandela is entitled to a state funeral, at which the world's dignitaries will pay their respects

Tradition: As a former president, Mandela is entitled to a state funeral, at which the world's dignitaries will pay their respects. But he has made it known that he wants to be buried in this graveyard in his home village

Quaint: This mud brick and thatch-roofed hut is where Nelson Mandela lived from age 10 to 18 near Qunu, Mandela's home village

Quaint: This mud brick and thatch-roofed hut is where Nelson Mandela lived from age 10 to 18 near Qunu, Mandela's home village

The 94-year-old anti-apartheid hero is currently being treated in a Pretoria hospital for a recurring lung infection.

Despite being in a serious condition, he is improving after battling against the illness.

South Africa's first black president will be entitled to a state funeral, at which dignitaries from around the world will pay their respects to a man who did so much to change global politics.

However, Mandela has told his family and friends that he wants the cemetery  - called the Mandela memorial ground - to be his final resting place.

Rural: It is part of the tradition of the Xhosa people to be buried alongside family members where they are born. This young boy walks to school close to Qunu, where little has changed over the years

Rural: It is part of the tradition of the Xhosa people to be buried alongside family members where they are born. This young boy walks to school close to Qunu, where little has changed over the years

Fun: School children play the roofs of buildings at the Nelson Mandela No-Moscow Primary School in Qunu

Fun: School children play on the roofs of buildings at the Nelson Mandela No-Moscow Primary School in Qunu

Rural: Despite Mandela being known throughout the world, this quaint and rustic village will be his final resting place

Rural: Despite Mandela being known throughout the world, this quaint and rustic village will be his final resting place

It is part of the tradition of the Xhosa people to be buried in their home villages, alongside family members.

The headstones reveal the recent history of the former president's family.

As reported by the Sun, his father Mphakanyiswa is buried here, along with Mandela's mother Nosekeni Fanny. His sister Baliwe was buried here while Mandela was in prison during the 1980s.

Sporty: Boys play football in Qunu just as a young Mandela may have once done

Sporty: Boys play football in Qunu just as a young Mandela may have once done

Unique: The rural South African village is a slow-paced blend of livestock, locals on foot and the occasional car winding along the roads and dirt paths that link humble homes

Unique: The rural South African village is a slow-paced blend of livestock, locals on foot and the occasional car winding along the roads and dirt paths that link humble homes

Special: Mandela changed the face of global politics. But it is this small, slow-paced village which did so much so influence his personality

Special: Mandela changed the face of global politics. But it is this small, slow-paced village which did so much so influence his personality

But it is two graves which most stand out. One is for Mandela's daughter Makaziwe, who died at the tender age of just nine months. His son Thembekile, killed aged 22 in a car accident, is also buried in the small cemetery.

Speaking to The Sun, Clan member Zimisele Gamakhulu, who met Mandela on his last visit to Qunu nine months ago, said: 'His mother used to live in a house overlooking the cemetery.

'It will surprise many if he is not buried here. It does not look much for a man who has so much influence in the world.'

Remote: A woman hand washes clothes near the former home of Mandela

Remote: A woman hand washes clothes near the former home of Mandela

Transport: A young boy walks behind his friend who rides a donkey to school

Transport: A young boy walks behind his friend who rides a donkey to school

Humble: Locals admit the cemetery in Qunu does not look much for a man who influenced the world. Two women walk close to Mandela's former home

Humble: Locals admit the cemetery in Qunu does not look much for a man who influenced the world. Two women walk close to Mandela's former home

Schoolchildren in Qunu have been singing songs in Mandela's honor and others are leaving balloons and well wishes outside the hospital where he is being treated.

He has been undergoing treatment for nearly a week for a recurring lung infection.

The government said late on Thursday that he was improving though remained in serious condition. 

Hard work: A woman gathers water from a dam for use at her home

Hard work: A woman gathers water from a dam for use at her home

Helping out: In Qunu, a child herds sheep to a dam for water

Helping out: In Qunu, a child herds sheep to a dam for water

At Mandela's childhood school in Qunu, school children in bright blue uniforms sang in his honor yesterday. Others have gathered to pray outside the Pretoria hospital where he is staying. 

The leader of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement, Mandela spent 27 years in prison during white racist rule. He was freed in 1990 and became South Africa's first black president in 1994.

By Staff 06/14/2013 22:00:00