MAC MA­HARAJ

Spent 12 years in prison with Nel­son Man­dela on Robben Is­land and served in his cabi­net as min­is­ter of trans­port

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I re­mem­ber a state visit to the United King­dom. At the ho­tel, Zelda [La Grange, Madiba’s per­sonal as­sis­tant] ad­vised us an out­fit­ter would call to dress us in hired suits for the ban­quet where Madiba would host the queen. “Oh, no!” I ob­jected. I wasn’t 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.

The next evening ev­ery one of us wad­dled into the ban­quet hall look­ing like pen­guins lost in the Kala­hari. And there was Madiba, 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.

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