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English professor Rita Barnard’s new collection of essays on Nelson Mandela examines the man behind the mythology. In an interview and an excerpt, she discusses Mandela, South Africa, and the challenges of a scholarly approach to a legend.

BY SAMUEL HUGHES | Photograph by Candace diCarlo | Interview & Excerpt

Rita Barnard’s graduate seminar on Nelson Mandela had just finished up this past December when the news broke that the subject of the seminar had passed away.

“The Mandela seminar was extraordinary—just to walk with him for the last three months of his life,” says Barnard, professor of English and comparative literature. “We had our last seminar on a Wednesday, and we were talking about the legacy, the end of the Long Walk. And then, the next day, he died. We were all completely stunned.”

That was also, by strange synchronicity, the day that the corrected page proofs were due for her new book, The Cambridge Companion to Nelson Mandela, a wide-ranging collection of essays by a dozen authors that was published last month by Cambridge University Press. With the somberly prosaic chore of changing tenses throughout the manuscript came another, unexpected task.

“My editor insisted that I write an afterword, which I didn’t want to do,” she says. “But in the end, it was a very good idea. He was totally right on it. It was so moving and such a privilege to be in South Africa and to be able to write that afterword, to think about the book, and witness those 10 days when Mandela’s beautiful face and message occupied even the business pages of the newspapers. And see the impromptu memorials, which were everywhere.”

The fact that Barnard is a South African citizen who has family, friends, and university connections there certainly helps her to navigate the physical and psychic landscape. But it can be a mixed blessing for someone trying to penetrate the nation’s racial history.

“It’s really important to understand that being South African doesn’t always help one write about South Africa, especially if you’re a South African of my generation,” she says. “I grew up in an Afrikaans family in Pretoria at the heyday of apartheid. And it is quite remarkable how successful the state had been between 1963 and 1976 to erase the struggle from official everyday awareness of white people. Now it seems like Mandela is ubiquitous, that he represents the nation. Growing up under apartheid, one was always aware that there were things that you simply didn’t know.”

Nor did that opacity dissolve during the years leading up to Mandela’s release. Barnard was a graduate student at Duke University then, an experience she describes as “formative,” since South African statesmen, resistance leaders, and intellectuals would often visit the campus in North Carolina. Going home was not easy.

“I did go back during those years of the states of emergency, and it felt extremely intense and fearful,” she recalls. “J. M. Coetzee’s novel Age of Iron really captures that very weird feeling that white South Africans had of things happening every day—terrible things—that were not covered in the newspapers.”

Though Penn did not hire Barnard specifically for her South African scholarship—her doctoral dissertation at Duke was on American literature in the 1930s—she has taught South African literature since arriving here in 1990, and in that time has become a significant presence in the field. In 2006 she published Apartheid and Beyond: South African Writers and the Politics of Place, andshe is also an editor of Safundi, an academic journal that analyzes the United States and South Africa from a variety of perspectives. Barnard is currently director of Penn’s undergraduate program in comparative literature, and was for many years the faculty director of the Alice Paul Center and the gender, sexuality, and women’s studies program.

Her two dozen years at Penn have, in a sense, been framed by Mandela.

“I got the offer from Penn in February 1990,” she recalls. “I came up to Philadelphia, and that weekend, Nelson Mandela was released from prison. I watched this on TV, crying because I was so relieved to have a job and I was so relieved to have Mandela free—to know that we were joining the world in that ecstatic moment of possibility when the Berlin Wall came down and so on. It was so, so moving.”

It wasn’t easy being an expat during those years, especially when Mandela was elected president in 1994.

“It was in some ways sad for me to be here in ’94, missing what was happening,” Barnard acknowledges. “Because I was on the tenure track—I got tenure in ’96—and during that whole period from 1990 to 1997, I never went home. The glorious era of Nelson Mandela was something that I missed. So it was a wonderful opportunity that Cambridge University Press gave me, to be able to rediscover that moment and think about it. And now, with the end of the Mandela book and with Mandela’s death, I feel as if that phase of my life at Penn—where I decided, against my training, that I would get into South African literature and culture—has come full circle. The Mandela project is a culmination of almost 20 years of scholarship that I did here, and also a reconnection to South African friends and social realities in a way that’s both personal and scholarly.”

The Cambridge Companion to Nelson Mandela offers a serious alternative to traditional biographical narratives, delving deeply into subjects that could only be touched on in a normal biography. Its 12 essays range from an exploration of the realities behind Mandela’s seemingly magical political transformation, to his 50-year study of law, to an examination of the portraits and other images that appeared in magazines, galleries, even comic books. Barnard’s 12,000-word introduction, a sliver of which is included on page 48, sets the tone for the meaty essays, which brim with the kind of details that illuminate character and history. Her afterword appears on page 49.

In January, Barnard spoke with Gazette senior editor Samuel Hughes about Mandela, South Africa, and her book.

INTERVIEW

You’ve talked about how South Africa’s liberation struggle was erased from official public consciousness. Can you give an example?

I went to an Afrikaans high school. And once a year our head- mistress gave us the history of the school. After the Boer War, when Lord Milner came in, there was an effort to Anglicize the Afrikaners, to Anglicize education, as a kind of post-conquest thing. Our school was one of the first Christian Nationalist schools, and our motto, Ek Sien Haar Wen [“I See Her Win”], was taken from a poem written about a march of women to the Union Buildings in 1915 to protest the arrest of Boer leaders who rebelled against being forced to participate in World War I on the side of the Brits. So all these Afrikaans women marched to the Union Buildings and they stood there in silence to protest. But I’d never heard about the black women’s protest, also at the Union Buildings, against the pass laws in 1956. I only discovered that when I was doing research as an honors student. And this was to me so revealing. One aspect of the nation’s history was drilled into us; whereas the history of the struggle was something that I had to piece together in a much more scholarly way.

Were there any defining moments for your political outlook?

In the early 1980s, I taught at the University of the Western Cape, which was the university that the apartheid government had created essentially for students of mixed race—basically people that they wanted to exclude from the universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch. Of course, as dialectics would have it, the university soon became a very radical place, with a very activist student body. And you could not teach there, especially in that moment of the resurgence of the United Democratic Front, without being very political. Our students were very political. In fact, there was one guy called Ebrahim Patel, who was always being arrested. Other students, too; but Ebrahim stands out because he’s now a cabinet minister.

You have to bear in mind that the anti-apartheid struggle wasn’t waged by Mandela, because he was in prison. He was not visible in the public eye. The struggle was in some ways a street battle fought by young people. So that experience at the University of the Western Cape was very formative to me, and I was always so grateful to our students that they sort of took me with them in their political consciousness.

At what point did you decide it would be a good idea to do this book?

To be honest, the impetus came entirely from my editor at Cambridge, Ray Ryan. He asked me if I would like to submit a proposal. I’d done a lot of work for Cambridge, and Ray had confidence in me, though I’m sure at certain points in the process it waned. I think he now probably thinks I’m quite an insane woman, though at first his impression was that I was one of the few sane people in the profession. My proposal went through various incarnations. I wasn’t particularly qualified to do the book. But I believe that I grew into the project.

You’re a professor of literature, and yet there are chapters that have nothing to do with literature, like “Mandela and the Law” and “Mandela on War” and so on. How did you decide what approach to take? What were the challenges of bringing these things in?

Well, the topics were dreamed up by me. But I was so delighted and honored that most of the people I approached immediately did say yes and liked the assignments that I gave them. The book did have a difficult process of evolution. And the shape did change. At times I felt overwhelmed by the responsibility, especially since I’m a literature person, and it was very clear to me that this couldn’t be a literary book. It had to be super-interdisciplinary.

What challenges did Mandela’s fame present?

Part of the scholarly challenge is that we now know too much about Mandela’s life. But what we know is very much tailored to be a national allegory. The autobiography [Long Walk to Freedom]is a very pedagogical text that presents Mandela in a very particular way. It has its tactful silences, as well. How do you deal with a life that everybody wants to know about and that is so moving? But how do you also work against the grain of the official story without the cheap impulse to just debunk, which sometimes goes along with academic work. I really do feel that, in the end, it is a respectful book. Nobody is an iconoclast. Nevertheless we do ask how Mandela became an icon.

One of the things that impressed me the most was that in all these little details, Mandela’s humanity kept shining through. Even in “Mandela on War,” when he was saying that violence would probably have to be used, it wasn’t sadistic—it was, “This has to happen if we’re going to get anywhere.” But it wasn’t going to be indiscriminate.

Or vindictive. In Long Walk to Freedom and in interviews, too, Mandela says that his time in prison made him hate the system of apartheid more, but the individuals less. And the capacity that he had to just understand where the other person was coming from …

There is something to learn from the way in which he handled other people and his emotions in relation to other people. That you have to think about what do you want in the end. There was always a sense with him that, in the end, there must be a place for all of us at the rendezvous of victory. So he treated even the Afrikaner generals like Constand Viljoen well. Because he tried to understand where they were coming from, and he understood where he was going, what the end was. And I think it’s something that we can all learn. Because it’s easy to have short-term emotional satisfactions, like pitching a fit, or telling somebody to go fuck himself, or murder, or whatever. But to be able to step back and think what it is that in the end you want to achieve … I’ve found that throughout this difficult project I often ended up asking, “What would Mandela do?” And it has been very helpful.

Somebody in the book [Daniel Roux] wrote that the efforts at demythologizing Mandela unwittingly re-mythologized him, and the attempts to humanize him ended up making him seem more exceptional.

Exactly. But there are a few incidents from his autobiography that I find stay with me, and that not so many people have written about. There’s one moment in 1956, when Mandela and 156 comrades are arrested and charged with treason. They’re taken to the Old Fort prison, where they are made to undergo a humiliating ritual. They’re made to strip. They’re searched. And in the autobiography Mandela writes about how he looks around at these men, the leaders of the struggle, as naked bodies—and they don’t really look like leaders. Of course what Mandela doesn’t say, and this is one of the tactful, modest omissions, is that of course he probably looked great.

I think that it’s actually an important moment for him. One thing about Mandela is that he was very reflective. This might be something that prison fostered. But I think that moment in 1956 might have been when he began to think consciously about what a leader should look like. As we looked at all of the tributes, verbal and visual, that were published at the end of his life, I was again struck by how beautiful he was.

Why is that seldom mentioned?

I think there’s something about the politics of the body that scholars can be quite uncomfortable talking about, but that in the case of Mandela we absolutely have to remember. That beauty was a gift, but it was also something that he fostered. He exercised like crazy in prison to keep himself looking good.

There’s a lovely anecdote by the journalist Patti Waldmeir. She sat next to Mandela at a Foreign Correspondents’ Dinner. Chocolate mousse was offered, and Mandela declined. She said, “Mr. President, aren’t you going to have some chocolate mousse?” And he said, “You know, I’m in my 70s. But if a beautiful woman comes by, I don’t want to be completely out of the running.” So there’s a little bit of physical vanity. But I think it’s something that, as with almost everything with Mandela, he recognized as strategic.

Speaking of the body, I was fascinated by the discussion of Yiull Damaso’s “The Night Watch” [a sort of updated, South African version of Rembrandt’s “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp”]. At the time it was painted, Mandela was still alive, yet he’s represented as dead and being autopsied and is mostly naked. How did that hit you?

You know, I actually owe the discussion of that image and its meaning to two friends of mine, Sarah Nuttall and Achille Mbembe. Their chapter is quite a moving one and was actually quite a difficult one to deal with when Mandela died—because the chapter was written before his death, but it was about Mandela’s mortality. They looked, in very interesting ways, at some of the darker strands in Mandela’s life. This is a man who faced the death penalty. So he was somebody who tried to own his mortality. And I think what that chapter then turns on is: Who will own Mandela’s death? And so they looked at these controversies about the prospect of his death and how they played out in South Africa.

I think we have to remember here that for black South Africans there are taboos and practices and vocabularies pertaining to death, the relation between the living and the dead—our relations to the ancestors, if you will—so that many people are hesitant to speak about death. The folks at the Mandela Foundation say that Mandela was actually himself quite forthright in speaking about his death. He told jokes about his arrival at the pearly gates. But that is unusual, and it’s tricky territory. The artist, Damaso, was very, very nice about allowing us to use his painting. But before he agreed to have us use that image, he did want to read the chapter because, of course, he didn’t want people to just freak out about it. He felt it was a very thoughtful chapter.

The final section was originally called “Pre-Mortem.” We ended up calling it “Dream Worlds,” to speak to this understanding that runs throughout the chapter that Mandela often was actually positioned between life and death, in a kind of limbo state—something that, of course, we saw during the long period of his illness. Which could have delayed publication. In fact, my editor wanted to delay going into production. But I finally just said, no, we’ve got to go ahead with the production process because we don’t know how long it’s going to be.

He could have been like Ariel Sharon.

Exactly. I actually thought about that. And I felt that we just had to say, “We wrote at this moment; we were faithful to this historical moment.”

What was the mood of the country when you went back last month?

I think that the memorial was a disappointment to many of us. One of my contributors, Sifiso Ndlovu, was at the memorial, and he was actually quite upset by the people who booed [President Jacob] Zuma and so on. And people did feel that the service was sort of wooden and not the kind of event that Mandela himself would have liked. But when you look at the whole 10 days, it was really a minor thing. And perhaps a positive way of seeing the crowd’s behavior is that it was an assertion just of what a great statesman Mandela had been. So in the booing, perhaps there was also an affirmation, as well.

Where were you?

I was in a very white, touristy kind of town. I go to Stellenbosch University when I do research there. But there was this impromptu memorial there that I thought was so moving. It was a black sculpture of a hand, and there were flowers around it. And there was this one little placard that just said Rest in the Peace That You Gave Us. And I thought that was so lovely. It said everything. And I genuinely think that’s what people felt.

One of my colleagues thought that the response in the press was on the level of hagiography. I myself actually thought that some very interesting pieces emerged. A whole new archive of writing and reflection was produced. Of course I was so happy that the book was done because then we didn’t have to process that as well. And, thank goodness, I never felt like we were scooped, either.


EXCERPT

 

feature02_mandelaFrom the Introduction

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was one of the most revered figures of our time, and rightly so. A “life-loving man” by his own description, he committed himself to a compelling political struggle, faced the death penalty, and endured a prison sentence that entailed the sacrifice of a third of his life to his cause. During these long years, he not only became the world’s best-known prisoner, but a symbol of his own people’s demand for liberation from racial injustice and a galvanizing icon for millions of others all around the world who cherished the principle of equality and yearned for a politics of moral conviction in their own national spheres. He became a name (rather than a face, for it was forbidden in South Africa to circulate his picture) that encouraged many who otherwise might have remained apathetic to identify with the struggle against apartheid. He emerged from prison unbowed and, despite impossibly high expectations, did not disappoint. Gracious but steely, he steered a country in turmoil toward a negotiated settlement: a country that days before its first democratic election remained violent, riven by divisive views and personalities. He endorsed national reconciliation, an idea he did not merely foster in the abstract, but performed with panache and conviction in his reaching out to former adversaries. He initiated an era of hope that was, if not long-lasting, nevertheless decisive and achieved the highest international recognition and affection. He won the Nobel Peace Prize (along with F. W. de Klerk, the man who agreed to his release and to the unbanning of his organization, the African National Congress, or ANC) and remained in the global public eye thanks to many other awards and celebrations, including a series of AIDS benefit concerts. As a statesman who was in no one’s pocket, Mandela remained loyal to friends who were unpopular with the Western superpowers; he opened his speeches with lists of predecessors in whose footsteps he saw himself as following; and he boldly condemned injustices perpetrated in many parts of the world. Unlike many leaders who buy into their own image and overstay their welcome, Mandela chose to step down from the presidency of South Africa after only one term, thereby asserting the importance of the democratic process over his own personal prestige. Of course, as Mark Gevisser has noted, he did not cease to be a global icon after his retirement—a fact that often made things difficult for his successor, Thabo Mbeki. As a private citizen, Mandela continued to exert influence, both nationally, through his various foundations, and internationally, through organizations like The Elders group, a collective of distinguished senior political figures working together for world peace and human rights.

His record, especially viewed from within South Africa, has never been entirely without controversy. There were times during the prison years when he was considered by some in his organization to be a sellout, and his solitary decision to initiate talks with apartheid government officials was likewise faulted. He presided over the adoption of a macroeconomic dispensation that many still consider a raw deal for the poor, and he failed to address HIV-AIDS at a time when the scope of the pandemic might still have been curbed. There is also a sense in which his chiefly bearing and mode of conduct, the very respect and authority that he accrued in representing his nation in his own person, went against the spirit of democracy and, while he constantly insisted that he was a servant of the people and a loyal member of the ANC, his popularity nevertheless generated something of a cult of personality. The effects of his earlier brave and flamboyant actions are also open to debate. The decision to embark on the armed struggle, as well as his conduct of it before his arrest in 1962, was not beyond dispute even among other activists at the time, and the effects were enduring. As a revolutionary, he displayed a romantic recklessness that led to his capture and thereby, arguably, damaged the anti-apartheid cause. While the trials of the 1960s, in which his appearances were electrifying, certainly enhanced the drama and international visibility of the struggle, they probably also set it back organizationally. This said, the hope that Mandela inspired, the dignity he embodied, and the moral authority with which he restored South Africa’s standing in the eyes of the world were of incalculable benefit to the country and its citizens, as was the model constitution adopted in the second year of his presidency: a constitution that bans all forms of discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sexual preference. For a while, Nelson Mandela made it possible “to think an aesthetics of innovation, an ethics of conversion, a politics of revolution”—but a revolution that, as he liked to put it, turned out to be a legal, not a bloody one.

 

From the Afterword

 

Nelson Mandela died on December 5th, 2013 at his home in Houghton. The ten days of national and international mourning that followed produced a dense web of commentary, speeches, and imagery, much of it official and sentimental, but some of it of high quality, well worth the attention of readers of this book. The most soaring tribute was offered by US President Barack Obama at the official memorial service at the FNB stadium in Soweto. Obama recalled that, when he first learned about Mandela and the anti-apartheid struggle, something stirred in him: “I woke up to my responsibilities—to others, and to myself—and that set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be better. He speaks to what is best inside us.”

Obama’s words return us to where this book began: to what I identified in the introduction as Mandela’s politics of the sublime. Indeed, the speech conforms so perfectly to classic definitions of the term—an effect of expansion and transcendence, of falling short in the face of an object (Mandela’s “largeness of spirit”) too imposing to encompass—that we must recognize that we are in the sway of a time-honored rhetorical trope. The politics of the sublime is a matter of language and of moving hearts; indeed, some might protest that, in the nitty-gritty sense, it is not politics at all. So it was not surprising that while Obama lauded Mandela as the “last great liberator of the twentieth century,” many commentators noted that Mandela’s revolution remains incomplete: the sharp inequalities that remain in his country damage democracy and constrain the experience of freedom.

Such sober reminders, however, did not prevent Mandela’s passing from eliciting a language of superlatives, verging at times on the metaphysical: thus we learned that the brightest nova of the millennium flared up in the firmament after his death and that the rain that poured down on the day of the memorial was a sign that the ancestors were receiving Mandela in heaven. Even those who declined to think in religious terms had to admit that Mandela was with the stars; the media response to his death was adulatory and omnipresent. The event made headlines across the world; special issues of journals were printed; Tweets and Facebook posts proliferated. Corporate tributes appeared on websites and in newspapers, so that Mandela filled even the business and advertising pages. The man’s status as global celebrity was no news. But the panegyrics of a legion of famous entertainers sharply brought home the mirror-like character of celebrity culture: like the corporate tributes, these testimonies might well have been heartfelt, but they could not be separated entirely from (self)-promotional aims. Mandela’s fame confirmed the fame of others.

There were, however, constant reminders that Mandela was a celebrity with a difference: that, while he was, as Mac Maharaj put it, “a man of gestures,” those gestures were not managed and false, as with lesser politicians with PR teams. They were based on Mandela’s recognition of the dignity of others, irrespective of status. An Afrikaans writer recalled a moment when, as a peace monitor in 1994, she broke protocol and shook Mandela’s hand as he walked through the crowd at a political meeting. The experience differed from all her subsequent encounters with famous people: “He saw me, not just another peace monitor or another potential vote for his party. Even in the commotion of the day, he took the time to establish a connection with a stranger through a simple greeting.” Similar recollections abounded. An especially touching story was that of the drycleaner who for years took care of the trademark Madiba shirts. He revealed that Mandela actually came to his house to thank him for his labors: “I’m a normal guy,” he marveled. “I do nothing but work and go home and sit with my family. He met every day with ministers and kings and queens. How the hell did he remember the drycleaner?” The story testifies to Mandela’s humanity and his respect for ordinary work—enhanced, no doubt, by all those years of breaking rocks on Robben Island. It defetishizes an item that otherwise threatens to become a meaningless sign, a piece of celebrity paraphernalia. One photograph among the thousands published touched me deeply: it showed Mandela in his presidential jet, carefully polishing his own shoes.

The big events during the 10 days of mourning all raised questions about the scales, codes, and rituals of political expression. A bizarre figure inevitably stands out: that of the schizophrenic sign-language interpreter, Thamsanqa Jantje, who failed to execute the duties he was hired for at the official memorial. Overcome by a vision of angels entering the stadium, he resorted to meaningless, yet quite solemnly performed gestures. The troubled interpreter, however, was meaningful in himself: he embodied something of the linguistic complexities of the event as a whole. The memorial, in which the ANC government clearly intended to stage a geopolitical reconfiguration by inviting leaders from Brazil, India, China, and Cuba—rather than Europe—to speak, failed to address its multiple audiences effectively. And how could it succeed, given the bad sound system and wooden encomiums? The crowd, braving the incessant rain, dissatisfied with being mere spectators, yearning to sing, mourn, and celebrate in their own way, booed President Jacob Zuma, whose misuse of taxpayer money made national headlines before Mandela’s death. They were reprimanded by ANC vice-president Cyril Ramaphosa in Zulu—not translated for the global audience—and asked to bring up their issues with the ANC leadership once the foreign dignities had departed. The scolding underscored the disjuncture between the thousands who were bodily present and the millions watching on TV; the event left many South Africans feeling dissatisfied and embarrassed. Without Mandela’s own charismatic mediation the connection between the global and the national shorted out.

But the mourning became dignified again as thousands lined up, in scenes reminiscent of the 1994 elections, to view Mandela as he lay in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. And at the memorial concert in Cape Town, where organizers were free of the responsibility of providing translators and security for important foreigners, the expressive culture of South Africa came into its own. Madiba was mourned and celebrated in a way he would have enjoyed. The crowds danced and cried, waved flags, and swayed to the music of Johnny Clegg, Annie Lennox, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. They sang along with the melancholy 1980s hit “Asimbonang’uMandela thina” (“We have not seen Mandela”) and with the stirring revolutionary song that last resounded at the funeral of the slain MK leader Chris Hani: “Hamba Kahle, Mkhonto we Sizwe!” (“Go well, Spear of the Nation!”).

The funeral in Qunu seemed more fluent and eloquent than the official memorial. It was a syncretic event: Christian hymns and military rituals blended with Xhosa customs: the welcoming home of the deceased, the slaughter of a spotless ox, the beautiful black and white cattle skins on which the coffin was placed. The language of personal grief emerged for the first time, when Ahmed Kathrada, a fellow prisoner, struggling to control his voice, described the loss of Mandela as the loss of an older brother: “My life is in a void and I don’t know where to turn.” But Kathrada also introduced something signally absent in the official memorial: a remembering of the language and rituals of the liberation struggle. He invoked the generous performatives of the Freedom Charter (“South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white”) and drew on a trope often deployed by Mandela himself: the naming of comrades who had gone before. Jacob Zuma, who, among the world leaders in Johannesburg had nervously gripped the pages of his speech, finally did what he does best: he led the mourners in a rendering of “Thina Sizwe,” the revolutionary lament of the nation for their colonized land. It seemed perfectly fitting amid the open, green hillsides of Qunu.

Nelson Mandela understood the meaningful gesture; he grasped the importance of the right touch, the right clothing, the right expression. The silence of prison taught him to value words and not to use them idly. In a country where language was always a fraught issue, he was an old-school nationalist, declaring that “language is the highest manifestation of social unity” and that it is “the inherent right of each group of people to use its language without restriction.” During these days of mourning, Afrikaners frequently recalled that he once said (in Afrikaans, which he learned in prison) that when “you speak a language that a man understands, you address his intellect; but when you speak to him in his mother tongue, you address his heart.” Having translated himself from herd-boy to global hero, Mandela also understood that certain things—like love—must sometimes remain untranslated and that even a man whose influence travels far must finally be brought home to ancestral ground. Let us take leave, then, in Mandela’s own language.

Lala ngoxolo, tat’uMadiba.

Nkosi sikilel’iAfrica! *


Excerpted from The Cambridge Companion to Nelson Mandela, edited by Rita Barnard, © Cambridge University Press 2014.
*Rest in peace, Father Mandela. God Bless Africa!

 

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