Dan Majestic reports from Washington: So now we know. The late former South African President Nelson Mandela, or madiba for some, no longer belongs to us but to the ‘ages’. Yep, that’s what US President Barack Obama has read for the notes in front of him, obviously overwhelmed by emotion to say it from the heart, without looking down at the script written by others. And he also read from the same script that Mr Mandela was ‘influential, courageous and profoundly good’.
Mind you, Mr Obama could have said all that without looking down at his notes. For we have heard a lot from his fans about his huge intelligence and oratory skills. Not that we’ve seen lots of proof of that. Because every time he needs to talk without a prompter or a pile of notes in front of him, somehow his eloquence seems to disappear. The thinking process manifests itself on his face. As in: how do I string this sentence together!
But there’s more: for come unknown reason President Obama has ordered that all flags on US government buildings and military bases fly low. Why is that? How does the former head of state of a foreign nation, who was on the US terrorist list as recently as in 2008, deserve such an honour? He was a great man, in all sorts of ways, but why the flag lowering across the US?
Still, if you think Mr Obama didn’t come looking good when he paid his tribute to Mr Mandela then the current President of South Africa Jacob Zuma was an even bigger disaster. This was a man, who supposedly worshiped the ground Mandela walked on. But what happened when the great man finally died? President Zuma came out before the nation on the box, dressed in all black, and read the statement, word for word, stumbling and obviously having difficulty reading. (They say he finds reading a big challenge.)
The nation, Mr Zuma read from his notes, has lost its greatest son and he is now resting and he is in peace. How does he know? What if Mr Mandela is having a tough time now, hearing all those insincere clumsily delivered speeches in his hour from the another world?
And there was more. Our people have lost a father, President Zuma read. Well, maybe he was a father to you, mate, but not to all the people of South Africa, many of whom still haven’t yet felt the benefits of freedom, living in poverty.
The point of all these tribute to Mandela by politicians, read form the text with insincerity, actually demean his legacy. Not one political leader, both past and present, has come up with anything even slightly original. These were all clichés, repeated over and over again. If that’s how the fans of the former South African revolutionary think they are honouring his legacy, then they can just as well shut their traps and let the people who consider him an idol grieve in piece.
And as for all those mourners in South Africa who’ve been shaking their booty as a sign of grief over Mandela’s death, they probably need to find some other way to express their feelings. Because they seem to shake their booty when they’re happy as well. So it gets confusing.