Sting has centre stage in my head at the moment: But unlike his Englishman in New York, for the first time since 1994, I feel like an alien in my own country. And it’s not a comfortable feeling.
For the past several weeks, we’ve been living in a kind of ‘limboland’ while the powers that be and Nelson Mandela’s family members (a group that appears to increase in number on a daily basis), try to agree on the time and manner of his death. It is undignified, distressing, confusing and even somewhat primitive.
Word ‘on the ground’, coming from housemaids, taxi-commuters, phone-in radio stations etc, varies and rumours abound: Last week the general consensus suggested that he could not be released until after the Obamas visit; as if it would be a horrible inconvenience to have to deal with it then. As if we should have that choice. Some believe Mandela is being ‘kept alive’ until his 95th birthday on the 18th of July and it seems plans are in place to celebrate that day; others believe he has in fact already died but that his death will be announced only on his birthday, while the newspapers implied that until the bodies of his children had been exhumed and reburied in their original graves in his village of Qunu he would not be allowed to die. This has now been done. And of course the ancestral spirits must be in complete agreement too. In households like ours, the feeling is that he is being kept alive on life support for reasons we cannot fathom. Wherever the truth lies, the whole situation has taken on a contrived and farcical nature completely at odds with the man himself and all he stood for.
The headline of The Star reports that he is in a ‘vegetative state’. For that perhaps we should be thankful as he will have no awareness of the soap-opera-like drama that has built up around him over the past few weeks.
Also on the front page is finally, a (Jewish) voice of sanity rising above the wilderness of superstition, misinformation and fear that has prevailed for so long:
Thank you Rabbi Goldstein. If only this prayer could go viral, perhaps compassion, humility and honesty would triumph over the confusion and squabbling currently in force and clouding the most important issue of all: Let Mandela go in peace with the dignity he so deserves.