Woods reburied in ancestral T’kei home

FORMER Daily Dispatch editor and anti-apartheid activist Donald Woods has been reburied in his ancestral home in the Transkei.

Woods, who died 13 years ago aged 67, had his ashes interred at the Cambridge Cemetery in East London, but following the death of his wife Wendy on May 19 last year, the Woods family decided to establish a family burial plot at the Donald Woods Centre in Hobeni, near the Haven Hotel.

He was reburied on May 21 alongside his wife and their son, Lindsay, who died of meningitis just before his first birthday in 1971.

The burial ceremony was private and attended only by the couple’s children, close friends and staff members of the Donald Woods Foundation, according to foundation spokeswoman Tanya Jonker.

“There was a blessing ceremony and a local community choir performed,” said Jonker.

“The eulogy was delivered by Donald’s close friend and the chair of the SA board of trustees of the Donald Woods Foundation, Kingsley Kingon.”

Woods, whose risky friendship with Steve Biko was encapsulated in the Oscar-nominated film Cry Freedom, was born in Hobeni which is the original site of the rural trading store where he spent his childhood years.

Jonker said it had been Wendy’s wish to have her ashes buried alongside her husband and son.

“As the Donald Woods Centre at Hobeni had recently been completed, it was decided by the family to bury Donald, Wendy and Lindsay at Donald’s ancestral home, which is also the site of the new Donald Woods Foundation Library and Archive, which is currently being curated and catalogued.”

The Hobeni centre has been developed into a multipurpose community development centre by the Donald Woods Foundation, which has set up health and education programmes in the surrounding Mbhashe area.

Woods’ eldest son Dillon, who is the chief executive of the Donald Woods Foundation, said the organisation aims to support local people getting jobs via improved health care and education.

The foundation has compiled a detailed health database of every homestead in its catchment area.

Although the graves are situated in a private family plot within the Donald Woods Centre, the public will have access to visit them via the centre. — barbarah@dispatch.co.za

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