Nelson Mandela’s greatest pleasure, his most private moment, is watching the sun set with the music of Handel or Tchaikovsky playing. Locked up in his cell during daylight hours, deprived of music, both these simple pleasures were denied him for decades. With his fellow prisoners, concerts were organised when possible, particularly at Christmas time, where they would sing. Nelson Mandela finds music very uplifting, and takes a keen interest not only in European classical music but also in African choral music and the many talents in South African music. But one voice stands out above all – that of Paul Robeson, whom he describes as our hero. The years in jail reinforced habits that were already entrenched: the disciplined eating regime of an athlete began in the 1940s, as did the early morning exercise. Still today Nelson Mandela is up by 4.30am, irrespective of how late he has worked the previous evening.
By 5am he has begun his exercise routine that lasts at least an hour. Breakfast is by 6.30, when the days newspapers are read. The day s work has begun. With a standard working day of at least 12 hours, time management is critical and Nelson Mandela is extremely impatient with unpunctuality, regarding it as insulting to those you are dealing with. When speaking of the extensive travelling he has undertaken since his release from prison, Nelson Mandela says: I was helped when preparing for my release by the biography of Pandit Nehru, who wrote of what happens when you leave jail. My daughter Zinzi says that she grew up without a father, who, when he returned, became a father of the nation. This has placed a great responsibility of my shoulders. And wherever I travel, I immediately begin to miss the familiar – the mine dumps, the colour and smell that is uniquely South African, and, above all, the people. I do not like to be away for any length of time. For me, there is no place like home.
Mandela accepted the Nobel Peace Prize as an accolade to all people who have worked for peace and stood against racism. It was as much an award to his person as it was to the ANC and all South Africa’s people. In particular, he regards it as a tribute to the people of Norway who stood against apartheid while many in the world were silent. We know it was Norway that provided resources for farming; thereby enabling us to grow food; resources for education and vocational training and the provision of accommodation over the years in exile. The reward for all this sacrifice will be the attainment of freedom and democracy in South Africa, in an open society which respects the rights of all individuals. That goal is now in sight, and we have to thank the people and governments of Norway and Sweden for the tremendous role they played. Personal Tastes Breakfast of plain porridge, with fresh fruit and fresh milk. A favourite is the traditionally prepared meat of a freshly slaughtered sheep, and the delicacy Amarhewu (fermented corn-meal).