A time for all – chiefs and missus, too
CHRISTMAS Day is almost with us. Later this afternoon, the malls will fall silent as the very last of the last-minute shoppers make their weary way home. A hush will settle over the valley and here, in the village, as we hunker down with our families, our thoughts turn to those less fortunate than us, the persecuted and the oppressed.
Like Mandla Mandela, Member of Parliament, chief of the Mvezo and an all-round nice guy whose every attempt at getting in touch with his inner Caligula has been thwarted at every turn by the estranged wife.
Take today. At a lavish ceremony at the Mvezo Great Place, near Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, the number one Mvezo will later be marrying a woman said to be so special that she has two names – Nkosikazi Nodiyala and Mbalenhle Makhathini. That, at least, was the plan at the time of writing.
But the chief ’s estranged missus has not been happy about all this, and Tando Mabunu-mandela has warned she will have the marriage declared illegal if the wedding goes ahead.
It is no idle threat. Seven months ago, Mabunu-mandela had her husband’s marriage to a 19- year- old Reunion woman, Anaïs Grimaud, ruled invalid after some furiously urgent court actions.
Better still – for Mabunu-mandela, at least – Madiba’s wastrel grandson was also ordered to pay R20 000 towards his estranged wife’s legal fees and a monthly maintenance of R12 500 while their divorce proceedings dragged on. The court also froze half the money in the chief ’s accounts pending finalisation of the divorce.
But a chief is a chief, and a chief has very little regard for lesser trifles like orders of the court.
Perhaps he considers them white people’s things.
Some readers may recall Mandela’s passionate defence, before a parliamentary portfolio committee in July last year, of the marriage custom, ukuthwalwa, meaning “to be carried” and which implies the abduction of often prepubescent girls, who are then forced into marriage.
“When a man sees that this one is ripe for marriage, then she is taken and she is put through a ceremony and then she’s ready. Don’t bring in white people’s things such as her age,” he argued.
Perhaps this is what our president, Jacob Zuma, was trying to say when he may or may not have suggested earlier this week that Christianity had introduced into Africa such problems as orphans and old age homes, and that Africans had their own way of doing things.
Understandably, and given the timing, the Christians have been upset by whatever it is that Zuma possibly said – although exactly what that was, we may never know.
Nevertheless, the ANC has moved swiftly to suggest that it was irresponsible journalism that introduced the orphans and the old age homes to Africa, and that the president was really just having another stab at trying to explain the concept of the muchvaunted ubuntu to the masses, although, if he did say anything about Christians – hypothetically, that is – well, then he was still correct, because the missionaries did bring misery. Some of them. And they did go about eroding African cultures, forcing Christmas on them, and the like.
The president’s spokesman, Mac Maharaj, has also quickly condemned reports concerning the president’s probable or improbable remarks – although it should be pointed out that whatever Maharaj says has some way to go before it even approaches the vaguely credible.
But we digress. Back to the chief of all the Mvezo. Which is what the sheriff of the court has done twice this year, with orders in hand to attach various goods in lieu of maintenance and other payments.
The first time was in June. But the chief wasn’t at home. So an order to seize valuables worth some R100 000 was not executed. This week, though, the sheriff made off with several head of cattle and a minibus.
All of which doesn’t bode well for today’s wedding. And I say today, because a fourth wedding is already in the pipeline – apparently the chief will next be marrying a Swazi princess, Siphiwayena Dlamini. Exactly when, I don’t know. Maybe New Year’s Eve.
Lastly, to North Korea. Here at the Mahogany Ridge our thoughts are with all those wailing souls banging their heads against lamp standards and pavements in grief at the passing of Kim Jong Il, leader of the world’s only communist dynasty and, to boot, something of a pygmy. We know your pain. We honestly do. Our heads feel like that most mornings after the nights before. But that is neither here nor there.
From all here at the Ridge, merry Christmas. It’s for everybody.