The Optimist | My letter of ap

The Optimist | My letter of apology to Mr Nelson Mandela

…I feel a need to apologise to you (an apology you will never read or hear but that does not matter) for the unpleasant attention forced on you at this time.

The Optimist | My letter of ap

nelson mandela inspiration billboard

Dearest Mr. Mandela

I need to tell you, that I have thought about this letter for a long time now.  Part of me feels that if I write this, I add my name to the genre of ‘I have no name for them right now’, and that is the last thing I want to do.

And yet I feel a need to apologise to you (an apology you will never read or hear but that does not matter) for the unpleasant attention forced on you at this time.  It is a strange thing, tragedy; folks just seem to gravitate towards it.  It is like the rising of the ugliness in human nature when something or someone else is in trouble, or makes the headlines for whatever reason.

Whenever there is suffering around, they smell the blood.  And then the vultures appear.  Ever guarding, ever ready for some piece of the action.  I find that so strange about humans; throw a tragic incident into the ring, and you will find all sorts of characters congregating at the ropes. Strangers claiming to be ‘close and intimate friends’, advisors who have life experiences none can understand — ‘Ah, I know, I understand.’ Buffoons they are.

Then there are the nosy bodies, like bobbing meerkats, totally overexcited at the prospect of being the first to hear the gory details.  They have all been around for centuries.  The really sad thing?  Now they are spilling into your world.

Does the way you chose to live your life make you public property once you have chosen to retreat to the shadows? Indeed, these are dark days when strangers rise to vent as if important, when your own family is writing an African play that would make any Greek tragedy seem feeble by comparison?  They have no right. No right to discuss memorial services and television rights in public.  No right to ‘honour’ you with financial gain.  There is talk of ‘golden locks’ in homage, Queens and Kings vying for seats — all too vile to contemplate.  In all this circus-driven farce, your wife Grace (Graça) has personified her name, and to her too, I want to apologise.

You have lived your life with dignity, and now it seems it is the one thing you are not entitled to.

I hope you are not aware.  I hope that you are dreaming of lovely things.  That you are quietly contemplating the good achieved, remembering a song or times with friends who understood you.  I hope you know that you are special and have encouraged some to continue your work.  I hope you know that your road, less travelled, brings light.

Pomp and ceremony will fade.  Fools will remain fools.  They will have their fifteen minutes of fame, but you, dear, sweet man, will go as quietly into that good night, as you made your presence in my life.

I apologise for what they do.  I thank you for who you are.

Yours sincerely,



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