South Africa: New book lifts lid on Mandela family feuds

Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) – An extraordinary new book about Nelson Mandela has lifted the lid on deep family rifts as the global statesman lay on his deathbed last year.

The Sunday Times has published excerpts of the eagerly anticipated memoir by Mandela’s close aide, Zelda le Grange, which will be released this week.

“Good Morning, Mr Mandela” reveals that his widow, Graça Machel, had to get accreditation for her own husband's funeral and her family members were allocated only four spots at the service.

The book notes that his eldest daughter, Makaziwe, nicknamed Machel "Ms Frantic" for the manner in which she reacted when an ambulance transporting her sick husband to hospital broke down on a highway last year.

In addition, Machel was also repeatedly sidelined from certain key decisions concerning his legacy and wellbeing.

“She was hurt and emotionally brutalised," la Grange wrote.

The book also reveals that factions in Mandela's family used his inability to express his wishes to "step in and start controlling matters to their advantage".

This included banning some of his favourite people from visiting him during his last months and bringing strangers to meet him when he was too ill to express his wishes.

Makaziwe told the Sunday Times she would sue la Grange if the book contains any inaccuracies about the Mandela family.

However, le Grange told the newspaper “there's not one line that can be contested in the book”.

The memoir chronicles how la Grange had her life and everything she once believed in transformed by South Africa's greatest leader.

She grew up as a white Afrikaner who supported the rules of racial segregation.

In 1990, her father warned her that South Africa was in serious trouble because “the terrorist” had been released from prison.

Twenty-three years later, her father “wept like a child” when Mandela died.

From 1994 to 1996, la Grange served as a typist at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where Mandela took her under his wing.

In the book, she recalls the moment she bumped into him for the first time: “He extended his hand to shake mine. I was confused and not sure whether it was proper for me to greet him. I said ‘Good morning, Mr Mandela’. One doesn’t really know what to do at that point except cry. Which I did. It was all too much. I was sobbing.

"He then spoke to me. I realised that he had addressed me in Afrikaans, my home language. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to hold this black man’s hand.

"I wanted him to let go, but he didn’t. I felt guilty that this kindly spoken man with gentle eyes and generosity of spirit spoke to me in my own language after my people had sent him to jail for so many years.

"Mr Mandela noticed that I was unable to continue our conversation and still held on to my hand as he put his left hand on my shoulder and tapped it.”

Soon afterwards, the global icon appointed her his private secretary and then, when he left office in 1999, appointed her as his personal assistant and official spokesperson of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

La Grange remained fiercely loyal to Mandela for years and protected him like her own father.

A percentage of royalties from the book which will be released worldwide will be donated by the author to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Meanwhile, the six-month mourning period for Mandela ends on Sunday, six months after he was buried in Qunu on December 15.

Since his death, his wife Graca Machel and ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela have been wearing black and have not made any public appearances.

A cleansing ceremony was performed in Qunu where family members have gathered.
-0- PANA CU/MA 15June2014

15 june 2014 09:50:48

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