#7: Wish Madiba Happy Birthday. Dearest Nelson Mandela.
Like Naomi Campbell, (besides for the glamazon physique and the penchant for beating my assistant with a cellphone. Note to self: Get an assistant.) I too would like to think of you as my grandpa. I would have swopped summers in Benoni for Qunu any day.
I thought about “adopting” you each time our paths crossed. The first was when you received your honorary doctorate at Wits and I got to act as a marshall at the event. I couldn’t have held back the crowd if I tried but I liked holding the walkie talkie, even for a short time.
The second was when, as President, you visited the Sunday Times and we were introduced. I smiled but like most people in your presence couldn’t get out enough words to make a sentence. I would have liked some photographic evidence of that meeting but even the bravest of news photographers — who then were used to capturing the most graphic images of a country at war — were too overawed to raise their cameras and shoot.
Occasion number three was when I was part of a pack of Sunday Times journalists who stood on the pavement outside your Houghton home deployed there to confirm to the nation that you had indeed married Graca, despite all those denials from the Presidential spokesman. I had the words ready but thought it would be inappropriate to raise it then, specially seeing as I would have had to shout it through the window of your car as the gate opened. It seemed undignified. And after all, it was Graca’s day.
Then I watched footage of the most recent 46664 birthday concert in London and had reason to fear that Amy Winehouse might make a bid. If you are indeed in the market for a Jewish granddaughter, take me. I am nowhere near as high maintenance and I come without a record for rehab stints and vertiginous beehives.
Think of it as a final act of reconciliation.
I know you are busy today and may not have time to write back so I will look out for a sign.
With much love and good wishes for your special day.