Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

12 December 2013

South Africa: Mandela Memorial - Mbeki Urges a Questioning of Leadership

analysis

The memorial for Nelson Mandela at Midrand's Calvary Methodist Church started like most others. Dark clouds descended and the rain fell. Anti-Apartheid activist and former Commission on Gender Equality chair Joyce Piliso-Seroke gave a warm anecdote of her time with Madiba.

Former President Thabo Mbeki, however, changed the script. It's time to question the country's leadership, he said. No prizes for guessing who he is talking about.

Piliso-Seroke gave the tribute so missing at Tuesday's memorial service. Speaking at the Calvary Church, perched on a Midrand hill perfect for watching the clouds of rain rolling in, she said she first met Mandela in February 1990. Her daughter Michelle had been accepted to the University of Cape Town and begged her mother to accompany her during the admissions process. Piliso-Seroke wanted to be in Jo'burg. Political prisoners were being released; protests were afoot; she wanted to be a part of it.

Against her will, Piliso-Seroke accompanied her daughter and they decided to accept an invitation to stay at Archbishop Desmond Tutu's home in Bishopscourt. "Put your bags down and help me prepare the house and cook dinner because Madiba will be sleeping here tonight," Tutu's housekeeper told them...

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