The world pays tribute to Mandela (slideshow)
As South Africans come to terms with the loss of former president Nelson Mandela, the rest of the world bids farewell to Madiba.
Pimples: Saving Madiba's rabbit (video)
Gwede, Mac and Blade try their best to stop the rabbit from whispering in Mandela's ear. But the elusive animal has some tricks up its sleeve.
Zapiro's best Madiba cartoons (slideshow)
From his toughest moments to his most triumphant, Madiba has been an inspiration. Here are some of our favourite Zapiro cartoons about him from 1994 to 2013.
Mandela: SA's greatest son laid to rest (slideshow)
The world watched as Nelson Mandela was finally laid to rest in his hometown of Qunu following a dignified and moving funeral ceremony on Sunday.
Locked in a hotel room in a foreign country once again (okay, Swaziland) and, in between bouts of work (which is why I am here, I can rest assure you) one is transfixed during down time (which can be at any time of the day or night, the movie industry being what it is) by the horrors of the television.
Okay, I suppose you shouldn't blame the medium for the message. It is not the fault of the television set itself that it ends up projecting so much bad news, not to mention spontaneous and miscellaneous rubbish. It's just that, alone in a room with the idiot box, there is no other outlet for your ire and despondency at seeing how the world is run — as represented by the images spewed out by the selfsame television. That's its job. And as I have said many times before, i-job-i-job. You do it. I do it. The television set does it. It's just there to do what it is supposed to do.
But that doesn't change the fact that you still feel like assassinating the television set.
What a week. That grand figure, Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela, celebrated his 86th birthday quietly (or as quietly as you can when one of your ex-wives shows up and insists on helping you cut the cake) at his birthplace and retreat at Qunu. The whole world (at least that tiny but growing section of the world that has access to a television set) celebrated with him, since you can't keep even a quiet, dignified event like this secret from the prying eye of the television for very long.
Everywhere else (and you can be sure the cameras were there too) the world was going mad. Not mad in celebration of a great, never-to-be-repeated birthday. Just mad.
Let's start (and in fact let's end) with the once mythical, born-again state of Israel, out of the Bible.
The world (or rather the world as we human beings have chosen to shape it in our own image) needs to be kicked into shape by some Greater Power if the anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest icons of our age can be accompanied by Israel's continued defiance of world opinion with regard to the hideous, inhuman wall that that country's government is insisting on building to keep the darkies out of the Promised Land.
When will they (meaning people) ever learn? The Berlin Wall didn't prove anything, and the whole world celebrated its destruction in 1989. Yet, while the remains of the Berlin Wall are commemorated, commercialised, museumised, re-examined and deconstructed as performance art among a new generation of German and non-German artists struggling (richly, we should add) to be released from the stigma of the Holocaust that their great-grandparents were persuaded to put into action, the Israeli government plunges ahead with yet another human folly — a wall stretching round the boundaries of Israel, just like the Great Wall of China was supposed to keep out the Barbarians.
Let me say one thing. The Great Wall of China is now a world heritage site. The Great Wall of Israel is unlikely to ever be a place of pilgrimage and wonder to anybody. Just judging from the images on the selfsame television that I have been talking about, it is hard to see to whom it will ever be anything more than an eyesore on the landscape. Who, in God's Bible, has the right to desecrate the beauty of God's earth?
But more than that. Who has the right to divide the beauty of God's creation? The Wall of Israel suggests that Jews are more beautiful than Arabs and everybody else, and have the right to remove themselves behind a wall of serenity and exclusion that might have done justice to the images created by Omar Khayyam and whoever wrote the Arabian Nights. The walled, perfumed garden where intruders with their lewd intent could be excluded.
Facetious? Frivolous? We all live behind walls anyway. Walls (visible or invisible) of colour, class, gender and history. Why be so brash, in the 21st century, as to bring this into our front gardens, so to speak, and create another Babel, another Berlin Wall — soon to be demolished in any case? And the folly of human history goes on.
The latest is that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is now calling on all Jews in France to return immediately for settlement in this same walled Israel to avoid further racist attacks in France. (He has made the same call to South African Jews in the recent past — apparently without much success, but who knows?)
The French, to their credit, are reacting with indignation at this blatant intervention in the affairs of their own citizens — many of whom are Jews, many of whom are Arabs, many of whom are darker-skinned people from the African diaspora and all of whom, along with the changing human profile (as Duke Ellington would have put it) form the profile of modern France, modern Europe, and the modern world.
The building of walls holds us hostage to dark ages of the past. It suggests that the old adages of "east is east and west is west", "black is black and white is white" and all that other lethal nonsense is cast in stone.
And this is the birthday present that we, through the television, offer to Nelson Mandela, in an age when we try to outdo ourselves in celebrating his image of transformation, unification and reconciliation.
May God, whatever that is (for it is ourselves) help us all.
Happy birthday, Rolihlahla. We, the people of the world, sure do love you.