Stop the deathwatch


I find it hard to contain my disgust at the response in South Africa and abroad to ’s hospitalisation for what is quite clearly a terminal illness. It has been nothing short of ghoulish.

Mandela is 94. Given what he has experienced in that long life, it is perhaps surprising that he has survived to such a ripe old age. Now it is time to let him go.

But ‘letting him go’ has not been an acceptable option for the country’s politicians, its churches and many of its citizens. The nation is encouraged to ‘pray for Madiba’ – not for a peaceful end to his suffering, but for the extension of that suffering or, at best, his survival in what may be little more than a zombie-like state. What masquerades as loving concern is in fact the ultimate selfishness.

Edwards is right.  I find this deathwatch ghoulish. We don’t need twice daily updates on him. When he dies, many will pay tribute – as is appropriate.

What South Africa and the world needs to do is to mourn Mandela’s death when it occurs and, when the mourning time is over, celebrate the life he lived. Instead, we crowd like vultures around the hospital bed of a dying man, some savouring titbits of hope, others in the expectation of gathering the first morsels of publicity that will increase their journalistic reputations.

Well said.

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