Friday, December 14, 2012

Nelson Mandela makes a cup of tea

I have a lot of respect for Nelson Mandela, of course. He is pretty much the No.1 respect-worthy person on earth. I also have a lot of respect for Phillip Adams, although he has regularly annoyed me since I started reading his column in The Bulletin in about 1980.

Yesterday on Radio National he was interviewing John Carlin, who I think had written a biography of Mandela. Phillip begged him to recount a story from the book wherein Mandela had invited a delegation of sinister Afrikaaner generals to his house. It wasn’t clear when this was, but I guess during the F. W. de Klerk era when democratic elections were not far away.

Mandela asked the senior and most sinister general for a short private chat, and asked him if he would like a cup of tea. Mandela made the tea, then enquired if the general would like milk. Finally he offered sugar - the general is quoted as saying afterwards "All I had to do was stir it!"

I must be missing something. Had no-one ever made the general a cup of tea before? Had he been repressing minorities all this time just because he was a little thirsty? Phillip and John were all misty eyed about Mandela's charisma and tactical genius. Their devotion was religious in its intensity, and I felt like they had just gone a tiny bit over the top.

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