Mandelas in choppy waters

2013-12-22 14:00

In the days following Nelson Mandela’s death, South Africans’ collective gaze turned firmly inwards – to ourselves, our neighbours, our friends and our country as a whole.

There’s been a lot of soul searching and reflection, but now our collective gaze is focused elsewhere: on Mandela’s family.

We were moved by images of Mandela’s widow Graça Machel and ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela holding each other during his funeral in Qunu.

Mandla Mandela kept a three-day vigil at the Union Buildings alongside his grandfather’s body that endeared many to him.

The well-publicised money squabbles and factional battles seemed, finally, to be set aside and the Mandelas appeared to be stepping up and living out Madiba’s legacy of forgiveness.

But this week the flags were back up and the knives were out once more.

It emerged that Mandela’s eldest daughter, Makaziwe, had allegedly locked Mandla out of the Mandela home in Qunu ahead of the funeral.

Now more stories are surfacing of open warfare between relatives and screaming matches in Mandela’s Houghton home.

Grief does strange and horrible things to people.

How many families can say that, like the Mandelas, they haven’t been torn apart by old feuds and wounds in the wake of a death?

But most don’t have to do it in the public eye. We can only hope the Mandelas manage to navigate these unavoidably choppywaters with Madiba’s lessons and legacy foremost in their minds.

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