Breyten Breytenbach’s 2008 letter to Nelson Mandela

12APPhoto-LynneSladky-Harpers-400Breyten Breytenbach at Harper's Magazine:

In due time there will probably be an assessment of your political career and the impact you had as president of the country — and you were nothing if not a consummate politician. Your being the historical vector for controlled compromise and change may ultimately be equated with statesmanship. Already we know you saved us from civil war. This should be remembered as your single most important legacy, and we must never forget how lucky we were. Some will say you could only do so by aborting the revolution.

But my own unease, now, is of a slightly different kind. I wish to express my deep affection for you. You are in so many ways like my late father — stubborn to the point of obstinacy, proud, upright, authoritarian, straight, but with deep resources of love and intense loyalty and probably with a sense of the absurd comedy of life as well. A cad also, when tactical considerations made it necessary. I think I’ve told you this.

more here.