10 April, 2021

South Africa Diary

I write this as Nelson Mandela battles for his life in a Pretoria hospital

South Africa Diary
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Question Times 

I write this as Nelson Mandela battles for his life in a Pretoria hospital. Memories of my two encounters with the great man and of my three visits to his beautiful rainbow nation come forth gushing. He visited India in 1995 and 1997 as South Africa’s first black President. During the first, I ask him at a press conference in New Delhi: “Mr Mandela, you seem to have a problem with (Inkatha Freedom Party president) Mangosuthu Buthelezi....” He cuts me short, and begins to reply with a quip: “My friend, I don’t have a problem with Mr Buthelezi. He’s the one who seems to have a problem with me!” The second too is at a press conference during his next trip. I ask him a question and get a non-committal reply. But it’s what he said to a colleague that I remember vividly. Question: “We hear you are in love. When are you getting married?” Madiba smiles. “Look fellas, you are too young to ask me about my love life! And I’m not telling you anything!!” He was to marry...

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