Item 1122 - Announcing the death of Makgatho Mandela

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ZA COM MR-S-1122


Announcing the death of Makgatho Mandela


  • 2005-01-06 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Press conference announcing the death of his son Makgatho on 6 January 2005

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  • English

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Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel walk to chairs in his garden for a press conference announcing the death of his son Makgatho on 6 January 2005
Lindiwe Sisulu addresses the media
With Mandela are Lindiwe Sisulu, his daughter Makaziwe, grandsons Ndaba and Mandla, granddaughter Ndileka, son-in-law Dr Ike Amuah, and other family members.
Mandela: “Some of you are aware let us give publicity to HIV/AIDS and not hide it because the only way of making it appear to be a normal illness, just like TB, like cancer is always to come out and to say somebody has died because of HIV and people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary, as something as an illness reserved for people who are going to go to hell and not to heaven. And I hope that as time goes on we will realise that it is important for us to talk openly about people who die from AIDS. Fortunately, as you know, I have been saying this for the last three years, before I even suspected that a member of my family was involved in this type of illness. And now that it has come I have announced that my, a member of my family has died of AIDS. And I want to give a lead to that. I took up this position before I knew that any member of my family was suffering from AIDS and because it is a point which I think we should [rub] over and over again. That there is no disease which we must be afraid of identifying, that a member of the family has died from this disease. That is the only way of making ordinary illness ordinary instead of following the people who are not properly well-informed and saying that if a member of the family has died of AIDS, let’s keep quiet about it. In fact it was never useful because many of these people die in hospital, handled by nurses and doctors. And even if the members of the family keep quiet, the doctors, the nurses and other medical staff in hospital are going to talk about it. ‘Did you know that Mandela’s son, or grandson has died of AIDS?’ And it gives a very bad reflection indeed to the members of the family that they themselves should not come out and say bravely that a member of my family has died of AIDS. That’s why we took the initiative to say a member of our family has died. In this particular case my son. And I had no idea when I started this campaign about three years ago that it will also affect a member of my family. I was stating a general principle that we must not hide the cause of death of our respective families because that is the only way in which we can make people understand that even HIV is an ordinary illness. And that’s why we have called you today to announce that my son has died of AIDS. Thank you.”
Mandla answers a question
Mandela answers a question:
“It serves no purpose to hide the illness from which you are suffering and the best way is for you to come out openly and to announce that you are suffering from this particular illness. When I suffered from TB in jail, I called my friends, the other prisoners and told them that I went to hospital for an examination and they found that I had TB so my friends knew what I was suffering from. And then when I had cancer of the prostate, I called the press and briefed them that it has been found that I have got cancer of the prostate gland and the press knew and published it. It is the best way to handle problems of this nature rather than to hide it. Because even if you hide it, you have to go to a doctor and especially if the public doesn’t know, the doctor doesn’t handle you alone, he has got assistants and they are going to whisper, ‘Do you know that Mandela has got cancer? Has got AIDS?’ and that is going to spread like wildfire. It is better for you to maintain your dignity and integrity by announcing that I am suffering from this disease. Those who were with me in jail like Mac; they know that when I suffered from TB I announced it. And my friend Walter Sisulu took me aside and he said, ‘Madiba, these are personal questions, you must keep them to yourself. So I say what’s personal about this? The whole hospital now knows that I’m suffering from this illness. Why should I keep it away from my friends? So he says, ‘Well nevertheless it’s a personal matter.’ Now he was reacting as my friend and we hadn’t discussed the matter but subsequently I discussed the matter with him that look it is better always to come out openly and to state what you are suffering from. Eventually, he was a reasonable man, he was our father, he understood how reasonable it is for us to announce what we are suffering from. And that to me is the proper approach. It serves no purpose to hide the illness from which you are suffering. When I had cancer of the prostate I called the press as I have said and announced it and it was widely published and that is the proper approach and people will appreciate what you do.”

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Accessioned on 3 April 2019 by Razia Saleh




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