Mac Ma­haraj

Sunday Times - - Insight Looking Back -

Ma­haraj spent 12 years in prison with Man­dela. When Man­dela be­came South Africa’s first demo­crat­i­cally elected pres­i­dent in 1994, he named Ma­haraj as his min­is­ter of trans­port

I re­mem­ber the oc­ca­sion when, against my bet­ter judg­ment, Madiba made me dress in a “pen­guin suit” — the white dress shirt, black bow tie, tail­coat and pin­striped pants. As pres­i­dent of South Africa he was on a state visit to the UK. At the ho­tel Zelda [la Grange] ad­vised us that an out­fit­ter would call to dress us in hired suits for the ban­quet where Madiba would host the queen.

“Oh, no!” I ob­jected. I was not go­ing to be turned into a pen­guin. A rev­o­lu­tion­ary kit­ted in a pen­guin suit! In def­er­ence to the queen, no­gal! “Or­ders of the pres­i­dent,” was Zelda’s un­yield­ing re­tort.

I re­mem­ber that the queen was splen­didly re­gal in her out­fit. And there was Madiba, not in a pen­guin suit, but in black pants and a loose black silk shirt. I guess he chuck­led to him­self all evening as he looked down from the main ta­ble at his dis­com­forted pen­guins while he re­laxed in his cool out­fit.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.