September 4, 2010

SOUTH AFRICA: Woman returns to home village after 52 years

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EAST LONDON,  South Africa /  Daily Dispatch / Special Reports / September 4, 2010

By XOLISA MGWATYU

A VILLAGE in Stutterheim on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, yesterday celebrated the return of one of its long-lost residents – an elderly woman who left the area more than 50 years ago.

Nonzwakazi Ndzungu, 73, ran away from her Kubusi home in 1958 at the age of 21. The family thought she was dead because she had not contacted any of them.

But two weeks ago, the woman was reunited with her brother Hototo Ndzungu – thanks to Buffalo City Municipality councillors Mluleki Beme and Monwabisi Mahodi and Amathole District Municipality (ADM) councillor Nomakhosazana Nongqayi .

HOME AT LAST: Nonzwakazi Ndzungu, 73, centre, is reunited with her brother Hototo Ndzungu after 52 years. With them are, from left, Ntombi Soga, Nokhaya Marhongqile and Lillian Mahodi. Picture: NIGEL LOUW

Ndzungu had lived in Amalinda Forest in East London for years. When her health deteriorated, her neighbours organised that she be accepted into Silver Crown Old Age Home last year.

“We could not help it seeing her like that – we had to do something as her health was deteriorating,” said neighbour Nokhaya Marhongqile.

The community also told local councillors about the woman’s plight, and they in turn contacted fellow councillors at ADM to try to track down Ndzungu’s family. Finally, after a three-month search she was reunited with her family .Her brother Hototo could not hold back his tears when he saw his sister two weeks ago after their 52-year separation.

“This is the day I have been waiting for, the official return of my sister,” said Hototo.

Ndzungu returned to her village in Stutterheim for the first time yesterday. Villagers welcomed her with open arms and gathered at the Ndzungu homestead yesterday where family had prepared a feast in honour of the prodigal daughter.

When the Dispatch arrived at her home, women chanted church songs while others were busy preparing food in the big traditional three-legged pots.

A sheep was slaughtered and African beer, or umqombothi, had been prepared for the festivities. Ndzungu, wrapped in a double-ply blanket, sat in front of the kraal.

“She needs to sit there for a while so that our ancestors can accept her again into this family,” said Hototo.

Asked about how it felt to be back home, Ndzungu cried. “I thank God that I am back at home and I am happy to be with my brother.”

Silver Crown Old Age Home manager Mary Mushwana said she was happy that Ndzungu’s family welcomed her back after all these years. “Our hearts are full of joy today. We wish her all the best with her family.” Ndzungu was later showered with gifts from community members and Silver Crown staff. 

By XOLISA MGWATYU
E-Mail: xolisani@dispatch.co.za

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