Not so dif­fer­ent

Sunday Times - - Insight Table Talk -

Some have spec­u­lated that Nel­son Man­dela’s de­ci­sion to make a young white Afrikaans woman his per­sonal as­sis­tant was a move to ap­pease a sec­tor of the pop­u­la­tion that feared him, but that is not the whole story.

The Man­de­las and the La Granges may have lived dif­fer­ent lives in very dif­fer­ent worlds but they also had many things in com­mon, par­tic­u­larly their hu­man val­ues.

In her book, Good Morn­ing, Mr Man­dela, Zelda la Grange tells the story of how her life and the lives of those around her were changed by Man­dela. She re­calls, in the early days of her job, her par­ents, Des and Yvonne, be­ing cut off by old friends who had seen Zelda on TV serv­ing tea to Man­dela. Her par­ents (pic­tured with her at the launch of her book in 2014) shrugged this off.

She tells of how her fa­ther bought trees and took them, at his own ex­pense, to Qunu, where he planted a shady av­enue to give the Man­dela home­stead more pri­vacy.

Lately, she says, her mother has been hor­ri­fied by all the vit­riol on so­cial me­dia, but her ad­vice to her daugh­ter re­mains con­stant.

“My mother al­ways says to me: ‘Lov­ing is the more dif­fi­cult thing to do. Hate is very easy.’ I have thought about that a lot and it’s true. It’s much eas­ier to just turn your back on some­one. Lov­ing is hard, but Madiba made a de­ci­sion to love; he de­cided ev­ery day to do the dif­fi­cult thing, the right thing — not the easy thing.”

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