Nelson Mandela, the 94 year old Greek-born Duke of South Africa, is once again in hospital with a serious lung infection. South Africans are holding their breath, worried that the pivotal figure in their nation’s history may not be around too much longer.
Mandela, the ex-consort of mother of the nation Winnie Mandela, has always loyally supported his wives and diligently carried out both official and charity engagements. But he has really endeared himself to the public by showing his human side with frequent gaffes, and by being a little bit racist.
Earlier this year, Mandela was in hospital and told a white nurse that “her country must be half full as there were so many Boers working in the hospital.” Another time when speaking to a Lesothon driving instructor, Mandela memorably remarked “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?”
But by and large, South Africans have been tolerant of Mandela’s foibles, with his mild racism said to be a product of his time. 56 year old Johannesburg publican Frank de Meuwee said he and his patrons admired the Duke of South Africa’s lack of political correctness, and said any suggestion he should have been locked up were ridiculously intolerant.
Famous figures from around the globe have rallied to wish Mandela well.
Prince Philip, a leading figure in the fight against UKIP’s attempt to impose apartheid in Britain and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, sent a message to Mandela from his own hospital bed saying “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” before asking the nurse could he touch her breasts to check if they were real.