South African Senior Remembers Mandela
The “tremendous amount of spring rain” isn’t stopping South Africans from streaming into the streets, says Johannesburg resident Diana Cohen, better known as Dinky.
“Traffic is disrupted wherever you go,” she said. “You cannot get through.”
The 73-year old respiratory therapist, who has lived in Johannesburg her entire life, was speaking by phone Thursday night, as the country and the world prepare for the funeral Sunday of Nelson Mandela.
People are leaving flowers and mementoes wherever Nelson Mandela went, says Cohen.
And almost everyone has “personal little stories” they want to recount about the leader she considers “a great man, an unbelievable hero.”
South African television, she says, “is full of people coming along with little incidents.”
Cohen has her own story.
“I was walking in the corridor of Johannesburg Hospital (now Charlotte Maxeke Hospital), just going along, head down, and then I lifted my head up and there was this enormous man in front of me.
Cohen has been finding out more this week about Mandela’s life.
“In the early years, when he was put in prison,” she recalls, “the news did not come through to all of us. There are lots of things I’m hearing now that I didn’t have a clue about then.”
Freed from prison, she says, “He did everything the right way. He reconciled with the apartheid leaders. It was a wonderful time in South Africa.”
Cohen is concerned about the future.
The appearance of the infamous interpreter whose gestures were gibberish during speeches by world leaders is a symptom of incompetence in post-Mandela South Africa, suggests Cohen.