Muddying Mandela


Media Foot Soldiers Taunt Winnie Mandela Again

In her authorised book, ‘Higher Than Hope’ (1988), Fatima Meer – writing about Mrs Mandela – puts it quite aptly: “Beauty itself becomes a target of envy. Tongues wag without cause, and how much greater the wagging if a cause is offered”, writes THATO MMEREKI

Unfortunately, the more morbidly intense our inward contemplation of ourselves is, the more hollow and delusive we become. This is particularly true in the case of Eusebius McKaiser – he seems to come out of such contemplation more hollow, loud and abrasive when he appears on television, writes an opinion piece or heaves bricks on Power FM.

So, I was not surprised when I opened The Star newspaper on October 28, 2013, to read McKaiser’s pen scratches about “backbones”, “role-modelling” and an aggressive attack on Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in his opinion piece titled “Better to have backbone when it counts”.

McKaiser arrogantly writes that he takes Madikizela-Mandela’s “new-found moral courage…in the twilight of her career with a bag of salt” and that she “role-modelled absenteeism”. This can only be seen as an unfounded assail on a respected and influential struggle stalwart by an up-and-coming radio talk show whose agenda is suspicious. Indeed, pavements are peppered with agenda-driven people who have tried to make their names on the back of Winnie Mandela. They all fell terribly short.

Winnie Mandela gave many of her years away from her family to the liberation struggle for the benefit of all South Africans including McKaiser – she has a lot to show for it. Many volumes have been written about Mrs Mandela. One only has to pick up her latest book ‘491 Days’ to read the pain and deprivation she endured physically, mentally and emotionally. Today at a graceful 77 years of age, she continues to be a leading light – advocating for social cohesion and active citizenry – as she knows nothing less is expected of her.

It is upsetting but expected that agenda-driven McKaiser never once called Winnie Mandela’s office to hear how she is doing before electing to launch a baseless scathing attack. In 2013, Mrs Mandela has had a broken wrist and has undergone knee-replacement surgery. If McKaiser were the journalist that he so much wants to be, then he would have known this.

McKaiser would be well advised to seek counsel on his abrasive character in order to add polish to his journalistic ambition and to be moderate in his approach to life.

He masquerades as a know-it-all but all we see is an insecure man whose loud and abrasive character only qualifies his peripheral nature and struggle to be someone. Unfortunately, he cannot be Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, that spot’s already taken.

 Like the comparison drawn in ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’, this too is the tragedy of Eusebius McKaiser, a non-player who will strut and hassle his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. His tales are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. 

• Thato Mmereki is Founding Chairman of the African Youth Secretariat.

November 2013
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