by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash
Back in the late 1980s, a girlfriend of mine in South Africa was commissioned by a newspaper to make a painting of Mandela. He was anticipated to leave prison soonish, and since no image of him was allowed to be shown anywhere, nobody had any idea what he looked like after 27 years in prison (it was a tip from the CIA to the South African Security Police that landed the “Black Pimpernel” in jail). So my friend made the painting, it was printed, and she wasn't far off.
And then she met him at some do, and was introduced as the painter.
She told me that her first impression of him was that he was very, very sexy. In fact, he came on to her as a man, and she confessed that if he had merely crooked his little finger at her, she would have followed him anywhere and let him have his way with her.
An old biddy, a friend of my father, a racist, confessed that if there was one black man who could put his shoes under her bed, it was Nelson Mandela.
When Mandela was young, he liked to swan around in suits and long silk scarves.
Mandela was a ladies man.
He met the queen of England once, after not having seen her awhile, and wrapped her up in a bear hug, and said “Ah, Elizabeth! You are as beautiful as ever. How do you manage to keep so young?” and while all the courtiers were beside themselves with embarrassment at god-knows-how-many protocols of etiquette were being trounced, she blushed, giggled and said helplessly: “Nelson!”
It was with this same charm — a sense of mischief, warm humor, and unfailing grace and politesse — that Mandela wooed his jailers and the politicians with whom he negotiated his freedom while he was still in prison.
Here is what happened, since no one is telling the story now, and it's not often told anyhow.