I read a piece online earlier this morning that talked about the mixed messages being given around his death watch. The point was that for most people in that part of the world, very few live beyond 80 and their death is a cause for celebration of their life. In Mandela’s case, his family is apparently fighting over who gets to share the greatest part of his legacy. It is very distasteful.
Consider how his ex-wife Winnie has reinserted herself into the picture. She’s garnering more media attention than his present (and third) wife Graca. Winnie is the one who I remember best for this quote, "With our boxes of matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country." Necklaces, by the way, are when you put a tire or tires around someone’s neck, fill it with gasoline and set it on fire. It was a common punishment (read murder) used by the A.N.C. with Winnie at the helm.
The South African politicians are all scrambling to post their scrapbook pictures of them with Mandela and SA President Zuma is the source of all the medical bulletins. US President Obama is over there now on what’s reported to be a one hundred million dollar family vacation and they’re going to meet with Mandela’s family (whatever that means) to pass along their sympathies and have the inevitable round of photo-ops. Practiced Colgate smiles will abound.
In so many ways, that’s what the whole Mandela death watch is about – photo-ops in one way or another.
There is no dignity being afforded this gentle man who led his country out of white colonial rule; instead, the new black leaders with their multi-million dollar bank accounts are doing everything they can to try to get a piece of his shirt and claim it, as the Catholic church does, as their first class relic. They all want to justify themselves in Mandela’s shadow.