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A young girl returns from fetching water from the Mbashe river with the help of donkeys. The single water tap that serves the village of Mvezo, where Nelson Mandela was born, is not working, and villagers must walk up to two hours each way to collect water.

Erin Conway-Smith/erin conway-smith The Globe and Mail

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Boys from the village of Mvezo, in South Africa's Eastern Cape province, bounce a soccer ball against a rondavel, the traditional round hut that is common in this area. Nelson Mandela was born in this village in a similar hut in 1918.

Erin Conway-Smith/erin conway-smith The Globe and Mail

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Nowentele Luhadi and her grandsons outside their home in Mvezo village, where Nelson Mandela was born in South Africas Eastern Cape province. The village is startlingly poor and has little development. As many as 13 family members at times live in this hut.

Erin Conway-Smith/erin conway-smith The Globe and Mail

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Nowentele Luhadi and her grandsons outside their home in Mvezo village, where Nelson Mandela was born, in South Africa's Eastern Cape province. The village is startlingly poor and has little development. As many as 13 family members at times live in Luhadi's hut.

Erin Conway-Smith/erin conway-smith The Globe and Mail

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Nokhelinga Ngxambane wears a fleece blanket with the pattern of the South African flag. All of the women of her village received blankets as a gift from their chief, Mandla Mandela, the grandson of Nelson Mandela. Mrs. Ngxambane lives in Mvezo, the village where Nelson Mandela was born, in South Africa's Eastern Cape province.

Erin Conway-Smith/erin conway-smith The Globe and Mail

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Nowest Nompoko with the donkey she takes to fetch water from the river, a two-hour walk each way, because the village's water tap is not working. Mrs. Nompoko lives in Mvezo, the village where Nelson Mandela was born.

Erin Conway-Smith/erin conway-smith The Globe and Mail

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Cousins Aslantinto, 5, and Bayanda, 4, look down over fields of grazing sheep to the Mbashe River, which winds around Mvezo, the village where Nelson Mandela was born.

Erin Conway-Smith/erin conway-smith The Globe and Mail

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Girls from Mvezo practice a traditional dance that they are planning to perform for their chief, Mandla Mandela, the grandson of Nelson Mandela.

Erin Conway-Smith/erin conway-smith The Globe and Mail

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Girls from Mvezo practice a traditional dance that they are planning to perform for their chief, Mandla Mandela, the grandson of Nelson Mandela.

Erin Conway-Smith/erin conway-smith The Globe and Mail

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Girls from Mvezo practice a traditional dance that they are planning to perform for their chief, Mandla Mandela, the grandson of Nelson Mandela.

Erin Conway-Smith/erin conway-smith The Globe and Mail

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A pair of painfully thin horses in Mvezo, the remote, impoverished village in South Africa's Eastern Cape province, where Nelson Mandela was born. It is late in the dry season and there is little grass for grazing, so these horses are starving.

Erin Conway-Smith/Erin Conway-Smith

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