Rumours of his romance

2013-12-07 00:00

WHEN Madiba started going steady with Graça Machel in 1997, he gave a group of cynical divorcés at the squash club in Machadodorp — that Last Capital of the Free Republics — reason to hope in finding Love again.

Madiba’s courting of Graça was then still officially unofficial, off the record and private, but rumours of his romance quickly had our tiny town abuzz, what with our Cop Shop on standby whenever the old man sped by on his way to Maputo.

For a change in those heady politicised days, our reactions were not just apolitical — they bordered on the poetic. We all loved to speculate about his late-night love-runs down the N4 and never you mind that we had proof of the ANC’s leader dating the gun-running chick of a terrorist most of us whiteys had been trained to hate — and had helped to kill. (If you believe the Margo Commission’s version of that crash you probably still believe in the Tooth Fairy too.)

All we saw was a rheumy-eyed old bloke, with a voice so nasal it bordered on a speech defect and 78 winters in his joints, rushing down to the coast every opportunity he got, to date a classy babe some 28 years his junior. And not a year earlier he was still struggling to divorce the wife of whom the graffiti wall at Wits then wrote, “Winnie is in the Pooh”.

Talk about giving the rest of us rheumy-eyed divorcés hope!

What’s more, the old man never seemed to sleep. He would pass by in the early morning hours and be back on the telly that same night, governing the country after just a quick cuddle.

The example he set made us all pull up (and some even rinse) our socks, comb our hair and scrutinise the “Hitching Post” adverts in the Farmer’s Weekly.

For if our Old Man proved nothing else, he did show us there is always a bokkie out there for the man who looked hard enough.

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