Madiba has gone. What remains now of our dreams of freedom…What happened to our ethical imagination? Where did our revolution go? But let us not forget that it is a human being taking leave…A lawyer. A strategist, for sure, but a man of principle. A charmer…A humanist. A chief. A visionary. A king. We need, first of all, to bow our heads and be silent. To be proud that we could be part of those who lived at a time when Nelson Rolihlahla (“he who shakes the branches”) Mandela still walked the earth…luckily he was too old and weak to realize what his party had been turned into! Of course, he had been a politician as well. He had tasted power, he allowed himself to be manipulated, he looked the other way when his comrades started indulging in an orgy of greed, he could be arrogant…let time do the sorting out…Let us…make as if we don’t notice the vultures tearing one another apart for the strips of moral authority still to be torn from the deceased one, for the money to be made from one man’s long life of struggle on behalf of all of us. And let us spare a thought for this old warrior who made us believe, however briefly, that we are capable of living up to the good in us…He honoured us. Hamba kahle, Nkos’…
What is missing in the general view of Mandela is his wit, his quick humor in surprising circumstances.
In 1998, he married Graça Machel, a warrior in the war that was won against Portuguese colonial rule in Mozambique and the widow of Samora Machel, the President of Mozambique, who was killed in a plane crash allegedly engineered by apartheid-supporting South Africans. So Machel was a woman who had married two Presidents. At the end of the wedding ceremony, after the “I do’s” and wild congratulations, she announced that she would keep the surname Machel. Mandela, asked how he felt about this, replied, “I’m glad she didn’t want me to take her name.”