The first President of South Africa, to be elected in a fully representative democratic election, died on December 5, 2013. It’s been five years since Madiba’s death, and since that day our political discourse, both in private and public, seems to have gone downhill.
But his legacy is too precious to let slip, and as the world celebrates the 100 years since his birth, his eldest daughter has shared some special memories of him, on the eve of the Mandela 100 celebrations.
In a rare interview shared with the media, Dr Maki Mandela says one of her father’s deepest regrets around the number of years he spent as a political prisoner, was not being there for his mother.
“It’s not surprising that among the 22 pastels he sketched was his childhood home in Qunu. My dad was a mama’s boy. He loved his mother very much. His major regret was that he wasn’t there to do the important things that a son does for a mother. He wasn’t there either when she passed away. But his love for Qunu never waned and you can see it in his pastels.”
The only pastel sketch Mandela ever drew of the desolate limestone quarry on Robben Island was put up for charity auction this week.
“Tata created the Struggle Series in 2004. Those who know about the artworks have always asked me the same question; why did he draw Robben Island? I think the answer lies in the number of years he spent there as a prisoner, and it was also the time when he missed Qunu the most. He loved it very much; it’s where he grew up. The thing he particularly loved during his years behind bars was the visits by one of my aunts, who used to tell him all the village gossip. There’s no place that was closer to Tata than Qunu.”
The auction is part of a bigger plan, to ensure Madiba’s legacy lives on. Other items on auction included a rare life-scale pewter cast of his right hand, as well as a one-kilogram gold coin commemorating Mandela’s road to freedom. Encased in the coin lies a stone excavated from his last resting place.
As the head of the House of Mandela Family Foundation, Dr Mandela says the funds raised will go towards ensuring that one of her fathers’ last wishes is realised.
“Something few know is that Tata was a farmer. He had cows, chickens, a piggery and greenhouses with lots of vegetables like spinach and pumpkins and his farm supplied produce to the local village. In his will it stated clearly that he wanted the farm to continue to provide for the village.”
To this end, the goal is to turn Tata’s farm at Qunu into a demonstration farm with an agricultural Centre of Excellence.
“Agriculture is a major way we can create wealth for our people, not only the rural population but as an opportunity for our youth. It’s in line with my father’s legacy. Proceeds from this auction will go towards realising this dream for him and for our people.”
Dr Mandela says the demonstration farm is the immediate plan, but in the long run, they want people from all over the world to undertake a spiritual mission to his spiritual home Qunu.
“Eventually his burial site will be reached via the Walk to Freedom and our dream is that it will become a place of pilgrimage for anyone who is struggling with issues of freedom. It will be the Mandela Shrine and pilgrims will be able to walk their own personal journey while they walk Tata’s spiritual journey.”
Dr Mandela says creating a place of remembrance is integral to her father’s legacy.
“Why people around the world love my dad is not because he was a great politician. It’s this spiritual thing; he touched human beings whether it was a fisherman in the Maldives, someone living in remote China or even America. “
If we can regain even a small amount of “Madiba Magic”, and harness each individual’s contribution towards the greater good, there is no doubt that the world will be a better place in the long run.