Madiba 90

Madiba at the click of a mouse

2008-07-19 07:23

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.

Johannesburg - Forty-five years ago, before his capture and 27-year incarceration, he was David Motsamayi, a servant in blue overalls.

Now kings and queens - real blue-blood ones and those of stage, screen and sportsfield - swoon like schoolgirls when they meet him.

Millions of words have been written about him and thousands of cameras have clicked (not flashed - due to his eye problems resulting from quarry work on Robben Island) to capture his image.

Yet recently, actor Morgan Freeman was quoted as saying: "We know everything there is to know around Nelson Mandela, but we don't know him. You know all the events but you don't know him."

And Freeman should know him, because he is to play the role of Mandela in a new movie about the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

In the world of mouse and byte reality, however, few beans about Madiba are left unspilled.

It is not all that straightforward though, as a recent www-hunt revealed.

Typing in revealed an "under construction" message in four languages.

Over six-million entries on Google

At a headline asks: "Have you registered your business yet?"

At you are welcomed to web design and trades in electronics, clothes, music, travel packages and dating partners. At a similar one,, the domain name is for sale.

The official version is to be found at

Googling the name Nelson Mandela spews out over six million entries.

Biographies, real and slightly grape-vined versions, abound. Many more entries simply tell us what we already know - that Amy Winehouse sang at his 90th birthday party in London.

But many more secrets are "revealed" on the internet about the nearly-90-year-old who has been the inspiration for much more than the Madiba shirt and Madiba shuffle.

Like an astro-report, which analyses the world-renowned leader like this: "Essentially, you're a good person... Your hugs are world class and your snuggles are second to none."

Another looks at his numerology and concludes: "Words that embody your presence are 'entertainment'." That surely explains why celebrities stampede to Houghton straight from OR Tambo International Airport.

Chinese sign either a goat, horse

Among the "words that embody things that may be a part of you" are "air", "bank", "lamb", "parasite", "revival" and "success".

Depending on which site one believes, if any at all, Mandela's Chinese sign is either a goat or a horse. If the latter, his characteristics include persuasiveness, popularity, style and accomplishment, while selfishness, unscrupulousness and rebellion are among his alleged vices.

Also look out for his biorhythm, runes, I Ching, stichomancy and tarot readings.

One of these readings advises Madiba: "If you are really inclined, this is the time to display self-confidence and authority, because others will tend to be receptive to your leadership and control."

According to the Keirsey Temperament Sorter he is a counsellor-idealist, which also corresponds with the introvert-intuitive-feeler-judger type of the Myers-Briggs personality test.

This apparently means he "focuses on human potentials, thinks in terms of ethical values, and comes easily to decisions". Counsellor-idealists are believed to have great depth of personality, be complicated and be able to understand and deal with complex issues and people.

Also in this group are Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Junior, Oprah Winfrey, Jamie Foxx, Nicole Kidman, Luke Skywalker, the Tinman from the Wizard of Oz and Amelie from the French film with the same name.

Little surprise then that Mandela has a star (a real one) named after him.

50 honorary degrees

Mandela-to-be Freeman proclaimed that, having met the man, he understood the awe that ordinary people felt when they encountered actors like himself.

Mandela has convinced Will Smith of the value of laughter and made Charlize Theron cry.

He has more than 50 honorary degrees but, unlike Kermit the Muppet frog, none in amphibious studies. Kermit, however, has never topped the list of the 100 greatest Africans.

One would have thought the Black Pimpernel has packed up his gear for good, but Madiba has only just managed to finally rid himself of the terrorist tag.

This thanks to a bill signed by President George W Bush allowing him to visit the US without the need for the secretary of state to certify that he is not a terrorist.

On a Mandela fan site an advertisement proclaims to know the "10 rules about stomach fat". Although many men have welcomed the Madiba shirt as a means to hide excess self, Mandela himself can disregard the rules at his leisure.

Among journalists Mandela is well known for his cheeky habit of politely flirting with young women. Little wonder then that he features on a website for romantic travel. On another he and his wife Graca Machel are cited as an example of a relationship that works, despite a 27-year age gap.

On his official Facebook entry he has more than 11 000 supporters, but on another just three friends: Frederik Willem de Klerk from Rio Grande Valley, TX, Claudia Jovita Infante of Mexico and Gra?Machel. There are also Nelson Mandelas from Montreal, Canada, and Albany, New York, on Facebook.

One might assume that not among his friends are supermodel Naomi Campbell, recently booted from his London birthday bash after yet another airport altercation and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. Mandela recently referred to the "tragic failure of leadership" in Zimbabwe.

Although his official Facebook entry cites "no recent activity", he might just have been busy travelling, or playing on-line picture sudoku, where his photograph appears along with those of David Beckham, Elvis Presley, Jose Mourinho, Paris Hilton and Oprah Winfrey.

On the Oprah website it is recounted how he, after arriving at the talk show host's Harpo studio for his internationally televised interview, he asked: "What is the subject of this show?"

Google "Nelson Mandela" and "humility" - 51 700 entries...


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