Mandela keeps tabs on the outside world

2012-07-17 22:36

Johannesburg - Nelson Mandela, who turns 94 on Wednesday, still keeps a close eye on the outside world despite a two year absence from the public eye, his old friend Ahmed Kathrada told AFP in an interview.

The two were imprisoned together on Robben Island under apartheid rule. They still see each other, most recently in Johannesburg, just before Mandela returned on 28 May to his hometown of Qunu where he is living out his retirement.

"When I last saw him just before he went back to Eastern Cape... he was already busy with a pile of newspapers and at that particular time, he was reading the Beeld, the Afrikaans newspaper.

"He keeps in touch," 82-year-old Kathrada said.

"When I go and see him, there is no agenda. Especially we don't discuss about present politics, unless he raises something, or he has seen something special in the newspapers," said Kathrada.

"I avoid talking about that - we have been long enough in politics - unless he is reading the newspaper and asks me a specific question, but it happens so seldom."

Mandela, a boxer in his youth, often walks with a cane but remains attentive to his health, he added.

"He is very strict about carrying out doctors' orders. He is very disciplined on that. He is a very disciplined man normally... and when it comes to health he is disciplined about what doctors recommend," Kathrada said.

"Even in prison he used to encourage others to exercise regularly," he said. "If you are not in good health, there is very little one can do."

In recent years, Mandela has withdrawn from the public eye, last making an appearance at the closing ceremony of the 2010 World Cup.

"He is not a character that you can put into one box. He's a combination of peasant and aristocrat. A combination of the ordinary person and the chief. He's a combination of all that. But as a human being, he's very compassionate, very courageous, very caring," Kathrada said.

"He has the ability to laugh at himself."

Although Mandela is unlikely to make a public appearance on his birthday, Kathrada said his presence remained important to South Africa.

"Although he is in retirement, the very fact that he is still with us continues to be a source of inspiration to all of us, to the whole country," he said.

"So the wish is that he enjoys many, many more years with us, and continues to be an inspiration to us."

  • Henk - 2012-07-17 22:43

    So he is fully aware of what has become of his beloved ANC....It must be sad for him.

      thomas.cannon.712 - 2012-07-18 01:19

      He must have lost tabs on his own country!!! One bad apple can destroy a whole basket of apples, but one good apple cannot save a basket of bad apples!!! The story of africa, sad but true!!!

      wesley.nel.5 - 2012-07-18 03:05

      South Africa is a funny place. One group of people get T shirts and they goes to schools and townships and clean the places, and then another group of people get T shirts and they goes and trash everything again.

  • Deon Heunis - 2012-07-17 23:09

    Hey, go check this out

  • farmfreund - 2012-07-18 01:54

    Mandela cant spell his own name anymore WTF does he has to do with external politics, just leave the man in peace, and concentrate on the problems in SA

      melanie.purge - 2012-07-18 07:09

      ur the problem in sa

  • robert.doyle.712 - 2012-07-18 05:05

    In order to see who is donating to Beggars and does not want to obviously be left out.

  • melanie.purge - 2012-07-18 07:07

    happy birthday Madiba! Si ya ku thanda we qawe lamaqawe

  • kathleen.whiteley.7 - 2012-07-18 07:09

    If any of us could say, in our own spheres, we had done as much, it will be time enough to talk.

  • sizwe.nyembe - 2012-07-18 07:21

    I wish he could be a lil younger again so that he could return to fix the country. Who else can we trust? HBD TATA...

  • muchekwa.segere - 2012-07-18 07:24

    love u madiba.

  • konanani.rachicoper - 2012-07-18 07:28

    Hip hip hip hurrey!,happy bday madiba.

  • Cindy Jackman - 2012-07-18 07:33

    Happy birthday Tata. You are an inspiration to many of us. Thank you.

  • sango.jika - 2012-07-18 07:35

    happy bday to to you MR MANDELA ,haters are going to hate you but any way who cares they can all go and hang.

  • 2zbunu - 2012-07-18 08:19

    This racial attacks you r posting here guys they r very PROVOCATIVE. They leave scars in sum1's life & health. Don't b suprised when they come back 2 haunt innocent people. We r trying to build a loving & free nation here. U start spoiling it by evil comments. Wish you change now.

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