Peeing with Madiba in the African Bush

Ever since Nelson Mandela and I became friends in 1994, and I am definitley not shitting you, I have been concerned about his health. Now he is in Hospital after an operation and If I know him, he’s smiling away no matter how bad.
I was a foreign journalist following his campaign in 1994 when we became friends. He was deeply grateful for Norwegian help over the years and took me to his bosom from the start of the campaign tour. I was given access that few experience, but the greatest moment of all was when we were waiting for a light plane in the Free State on a deserted airfield when we both answered the call to nature. So for two minutes Nelson and I had a pee togther in one of the open urinals chatting about the New South Africa.

Madiba and I in 1994, in my home town

The one thing I did not enjoy was riding in his motorcade. The drivers were maniacs who drove at breathtaking speeds where I was sure I was to die in a mangled wreck.
But the angels were watching over me. Because of my status with Madiba, the heavies who guarded him too became my friends and there we were, ex mortal enemies talking security.
When the time came to leave Madiba warmly shook my hand and asked me to give Gro Harlem Brundtland, the then PM of Norway his best regards. Her secretary ensured me that the message would be passed on as she was *Busy*. She did have the grace to call me back to thank me.
I have been around the block and have experienced epic moments, but peeing with Nelson in the African bush and shakin out those last drops together is certainly the highlight of highlights.
He is now ailing, a year younger than my mother when she died. May God bless him as Desmond Tutu would say.

©Howard Gamble
25th February 2012

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