Perhaps everyone should look after their own familes

2009-02-28 00:00

The answer is the African National Congress. Most of you may be asking what the question is. This can be found at the end of this column. Much has been said about former president Nelson Mandela’s appearance at an ANC rally held in the Eastern Cape recently and, with this being election time, just about everyone jumped on the bandwagon to score some crucial political points. Whether or not this was done successfully is anyone’s guess.

Why there has been such a thunderous storm in a teacup about the “old man’s” appearance still boggles my mind.

Mandela’s reconciliatory record in politics in this country seems to have made people forget that he belongs to a political party and has a political home.

What I found most disturbing is how Mandela has been portrayed as someone who is unable to make his own choices, as if at his age the brain loses it objectivity and becomes docile. A picture has been painted of an old man who has been dragged to the rally against his own wishes and has been used as a puppet and a pawn.

This goes a long way towards undermining Mandela’s intelligence, as if he is not his own person. Those who know Mandela well will know how firm he can be on issues he believes in and how he can never be made to do something he does not want to do.

This reminds me of a time when he visited the East (I think it was China or Japan) and against the beliefs and cultures of that country, he made his own bed — at a hotel nogal.

I am told this is one of the biggest insults a guest can dish out to locals, but he went ahead and made the bed because he could not understand how someone else could be expected to make a bed that he or she did not sleep in or how a person can leave without cleaning up his or her “mess”.

It was rich coming from Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota that Mandela was being used by the ANC when a few months ago Lekota failed to woo Mandela into joining his party, alongside the likes of Fatima Meer.

It is clear there was a communication breakdown between the Mandela family and the Mandela Foundation and that attending the rally was his wish, as it has been expressed many times before in the media, although this has been ignored.

In the past, I have warned about the foundation having a monopoly on Mandela and how normal South Africans like you and me have no access to him whereas the likes of Bono, Naomi Campbell and others have first-class tickets to the icon our country made, thanks to the cheques they come waving as “entry fees”.

The question is, who does Mandela belong to and who are his family? After all, his blood family is in the ANC. Perhaps, we should all back off and look after our own families.

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