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.