Nelson Mandela ‘awkward in his personal relationships’

Sunday, October 17, 2010

LONDON - Former South African president Nelson Mandela- revered around the globe for his warmth-shares a cold relationship with his family, it has emerged.

A collection of his writing, jottings and letters from his long years of captivity on Robben Island in a new book, ‘Conversations With Myself,’ has highlighted cold, rather stilted tone of Mandela’s letters to his family during his long years of imprisonment.

The stuff of normal correspondence between loved ones has been entirely absent. Instead, Mandela’s letters to his children contain his thoughts on contemporary events, almost as if they were written for posterity.

“When we meet I hug and kiss him-but I don’t know if he loves me,” the Daily Mail quoted Mandela’s oldest surviving child, Makaziwe Mandela, as saying.

Makaziwe, known as Maki, although is now at peace with her father but she said that she struggled for years with feelings of anger and abandonment.

“As a child, before my father went to prison, I yearned to have both of my parents in my life, but it was my mother who brought me up. I had a father who had been there but not really there. He was not available to us.

“It sounds strange, but Dad and I developed a better relationship when he was in prison,” she said.

Even though the letters sent by Mandela were lacking in emotion, they at least provided Maki with some personal contact.

“But when he came out of jail, he was just swallowed by the world and by South Africa.

“I still think that after he was released, he should have created some space for the family, for his children.

We were ignored, or at least not acknowledged, while he was preoccupied with politics,” said Makki.

“I really do think he could have done things a little bit differently. Even now, when he’s got more time, he doesn’t make the effort to really engage. He’s open and extrovert to the world, but awkward in his intimate personal relationships with his own family,” she added. (ANI)

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