Mandla Man­dela says no to be­ing es­cape goat

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

IN­TENSE spec­u­la­tion here at the Ma­hogany Ridge as to what the al­leged grave rob­ber Mandla Man­dela meant when he told a press con­fer­ence on Thurs­day that his grand­fa­ther, Nel­son Man­dela, had a “cynistri­cal” sense of hu­mour.

Was it a sin­is­ter sense of hu­mour? Or cyn­i­cal? Hys­ter­i­cal? Did he per­haps mean cylin­dri­cal? The Mvezo chief wasn’t say­ing, and much to our re­gret, the me­dia didn’t push him for an ex­pla­na­tion ei­ther.

Per­haps they had been stunned into dis­be­lief by the bat­ti­ness of his ram­bling at­tack on those fam­ily mem­bers who’d suc­cess­fully chal­lenged him in the Eastern Cape High Court, and Mandla was or­dered to sur­ren­der the re­mains of his fa­ther and two of his fa­ther’s sib­lings which he had dug up at Qunu in 2011 and moved to Mvezo.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, Mandla wasn’t that happy with the court’s de­ci­sion, and said it was wrong that the or­der was granted in his ab­sence.

Here at the Ridge, we were won­der­ing whether Mandla’s pres­ence would have had any ef­fect on the court’s rul­ing. As one reg­u­lar said: “Given that this is a feud of Bib­li­cal pro­por­tions, maybe the courts would’ve come over all Solomon. ‘Okay, you can keep half the re­mains.’”

The thing about Mandla, though, is that he prob­a­bly would have agreed to that. He is, it must be said, not the fam­ily brain sur­geon.

But back to the Madiba brand of hu­mour. Was he play­ing a prac­ti­cal joke on the young­ster when he took him aside and of­fered him the poi­soned chal­ice: “Here, you’re not do­ing much with your­self th­ese days, why not be chief of the royal house of Man­dela?”

When his grand­fa­ther first ap­proached him, he said no, he’d wanted to be a DJ. But the old man was per­sua­sive, Mandla added, and took him to lunch, told him that if he re­ally wanted to be an in­de­pen­dent sort of city guy, well, then he was go­ing to be of no use to the peo­ple in the coun­try.

“Though re­luc­tant to leave my life and trek to the ru­ral ar­eas, my grand­fa­ther re­minded me that my first re­spon­si­bil­ity should be that of ser­vice to our peo­ple,” Mandla said. “I was duly in­stalled (as chief) with my grand­fa­ther present, and the cur­rent king of the AbaThembu, Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, in a cer­e­mony at­tended by my fam­ily, tra­di­tional lead­ers across the coun­try and our po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives.”

He skipped over the racy bits – like the weird crazy mar­riages to women who would later claim he was in­fer­tile – but he did re­veal that the chief thing got to be a drag soon enough. Prin­ci­pal gripes would ap­pear to be that (a) there were too many Man­de­las who did things with­out his say-so, and (b) there were those who chal­lenged the le­git­i­macy of his chief­tain­ship.

Re­gard­ing the lat­ter, one cul­prit here would ap­pear to be Dalindyebo, who is prob­a­bly the first monarch ever to openly ex­press his sup­port for the DA. Per­haps it’s his dagga smok­ing, but Dalindyebo has also ac­cused Mandla of want­ing to un­seat him. “This is a laugh­able mat­ter to say the least,” Mandla ex­plained. “I think the king wants to make me an es­cape goat from deal­ing with the dif­fi­cult dis­putes that he faces in his own Dalindyebo royal house.” (He did say that, hon­est.)

As for not con­sult­ing him, well, he claimed that’s how the Man­de­las did things. He’d been asked if he had first checked with the rest of the fam­ily be­fore dig­ging up the graves at Qunu, and con­firmed he hadn’t.

“I did what is a nor­mal­ity in this fam­ily,” Mandla said, adding that he hadn’t even been in­cluded in the loop about the burial plans for the for­mer pres­i­dent.

On the plus side, though, the fam­ily had or­dered him to deal with Man­dela’s swine.

“Even last week I was or­dered to re­move the pigs there that are on the farm. As all of us know, my grand­fa­ther is a pas­sion­ate farmer. He came back home to his hum­ble be­gin­nings and built a farm for him­self where he kept cat­tle and pigs. But to­day all of that is be­ing eroded with­out any con­sul­ta­tion.”

Such uni­lat­er­al­ism could be a thing of the past be­fore long. The royal house of Man­dela may soon be the royal house of Mandla.

“I think in the years com­ing we will ask one an­other: Who are the Man­de­las? Be­cause that is go­ing to be essence of where to from here. We need to define our­selves. We need to be clear who are mem­bers of this fam­ily, we need to be clear when we con­vene fam­ily meet­ings who sits at th­ese fam­ily meet­ings.”

Sadly, we know who won’t be there.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.