“Listen, I tell you: it’s all been orchestrated.” Gertruida sits back with a smug look. “They’re going for big stakes here.”
“What are you talking about, Gertruida? You’re not making any sense.” Boggel fetches new beers, just in case the conversation heats up. It’s been a dull day in Boggel’s Place, and they can do with a little excitement..
“Tata Madiba,” she says softly. “Who else?’
“What about him?” Even Vetfaan wants to know.
“It’s simple. The ANC is in trouble. They’re losing support, corruption is rife, the president isn’t popular any more. They have to do something to seem important.”
“Sooo…?” Patricia dangles the question in the silence.
“So they’re going to keep him going for a while. Obama is coming to visit South Africa tomorrow. They’ll roll out the red carpet, and fly by the few Air Force helicopters they’ve managed to keep going. I’m sure they’ll rustle up a brass band that can play The Stars and Stripes; get a caterer that can serve something else than sushi on naked ladies, and get Johnny Clegg to sing.
“And believe me, they’ll show poor old Obama all the things that’s doing well in the country. Most probably a tour of Mandela memorabilia, Table Mountain, and Vilakazi Street. America’s president will make all the right noises, and the ANC will be keen to improve American relationships – because a lot of money is involved.
“Then, on Saturday – even Sunday – the announcement of Nelson Mandella’s death will come. The nation will go into mourning. There’ll be calls for several days off work by the Unions. The SABC will show – over and over again – how the ANC was responsible for freeing the masses. There’ll be pictures of Mandela on every front page, the world over.”
Gertruida pauses here to contemplate the enormity of it all.
“The fact is,” she continues, “that any other person of that age, would not have been of life-sustaining machines any more. He’s ninety-four, for goodness’ sakes! He’s had a full life. He served his country. Why prolong his agony?
“You ask me, and I’ll tell you: I think he’s not with us any more. They’re keeping him going for some reason. And I think they want to get Obama out of the way before they start the show.”
“You know, Gertruida, I think you’ve been smoking something. Your theory is as far-fetched as the one saying that new party, Agang, is funded by the CIA. Where do you get your ideas from?” Servaas snorts – this is just too much!
“And don’t you for one moment think it wouldn’t be the most televised funeral the world has ever seen. The ANC will get more coverage than the Moon Landing. That is their goal. You just wait…you’ll see.”
But somehow, her words cause a subdued silence in Boggel’s Place. They’re all asking themselves one simple question.