Madiba 90

A tribute to Madiba

2008-07-18 07:46
<b>Nasief Manie, Rapport</b>

Nasief Manie, Rapport

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Special Report

Mandela: SA needs good leaders

Now as much as ever, South Africa needs disciplined leaders, Nelson Mandela has said at birthday celebration in Pretoria.

Every time I was in Sea Point and looked across Table Bay to enjoy the beauty of the blue sea and clear sky, I would notice that island and my heart would skip a beat.

I knew on that place in a dark cage was the most dangerous man in the world. A terrorist. A communist. The anti-Christ.

I believed my colleagues in politics when they told me not to think about him.

"The world would forget him," they said. They banned his picture, so that I could never know what he looked like. They censored his words. They wouldn't allow me to hear the sound of his voice.

In fact, I wasn't even sure why he was in jail; I thought he'd stolen a car. In today's terms he was the Osama bin Laden of my fears. And so I tried to never think of him. But Helen Suzman never allowed us to forget.

The only member of the white opposition against apartheid, who sat alone in Parliament for all those years, kept saying the same thing over and over. "Free Mandela! Get rid of apartheid!"

Over and over. She nearly drove the Afrikaner Broederbond mad.

"Free Mandela!"

Eventually in 1990, President FW de Klerk couldn't stand it any more.

He asked me: "Evita, how do I shut her up?"

I said: "Do as she says." And he did. He freed Mandela and ended apartheid.

Nelson Mandela could have been so angry when he left prison. How would anyone else have felt? In jail for 27 years for what you believe in? Away from your children? Your wife goes mad?

Nelson Mandela so easily could have come out of jail and spoken like Robert Mugabe. He could have said: "To hell with democracy! Take the farms! Kill the whites!"

And hundreds of thousands of whites could have been killed and no one in the world, or on CNN, would have looked in our direction.

But he didn't say that. Nelson Mandela walked out of prison with that wonderful smile and gave truth to the old saying: "Love your enemy: it will ruin his reputation."

And he freed me from the jail of my prejudice and my fear.

Viva Madiba!

Evita Bezuidenhout

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