Exclusive: Graça Machel breaks her silence

2014-06-29 03:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The black is gone. The scarf and shawl, the widow’s ­identity, is packed away. But her eyes, usually commanding and curious, remain sad. Graça Machel enters a room to capture it. She has a leader’s tall, determined gait, similar to that of her late husband.

She speaks of Madiba in the present tense, in words and sentences that linger in the air like she is checking in with him. “Madiba is?...?a lot of things to me. He means a lot of things to me. He is that very good friend you feel you connect with even if you don’t talk. It’s not only because of what you say. Just looking into the eyes...”

And she breaks off.

What does she miss about the man she married at the age of 53 when he was 80? Madiba died last year, aged 96. The two had a ­marriage that was both fairy tale and old school.

For the last two years of his life, Madiba was often ill. Machel undertook a vigil of love, caring for him at their Houghton home, which was turned into a hospital, and also at the Pretoria Heart hospital, where he spent 12 weeks last year.

“I miss sitting with him in the lounge. I miss feeding him. I’d be holding his hand with one hand and feeding him with the other,” she says, imitating the gesture, honed through regular practice – an act of love and nurturing, not of nursing.

“The communication and intimacy from that was so profound. When I stopped feeding him, because there was no need to feed him [when the elder statesman was fed intravenously], I felt ‘how will I communicate with him?’”

» Get City Press newspaper today for Ferial Haffajee's full interview with Machel.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.