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Memories of Madiba in Mauritius

Garreth Van Niekerk | Mail & Guardian   in 
December 16, 2014

It was only after five days of blissing out on one of the most idyllic Mauritian beaches that I learned that the beach I was walking on, Le Saint Géran, was the same one Madiba chose to sink his tired feet into after nearly 40 years without the ocean. The last time he had been in the sea was under the watch of prison guards, picking out seaweed from the icy Atlantic on Robben Island.

Zelda la Grange reveals a touching moment from the trip in her bestselling memoir Good Morning Mr Mandela: “After a few days Madiba announced he wanted to go into the water. We were hesitant as we were not sure whether he would be able to stand in the water. He was having difficulties walking and was using a walking stick. Security took him down the terrace into the water and he sat on a chair, allowing the waves to break over his feet. The pure joy on his face touched my heart in a way that is difficult to describe. How could something so ordinary, something we take for granted, bring such pleasure to a human being?”

Tata, Graça Machel, a few grandchildren and his travelling entourage were invited by South African mega-hotelier Sol Kerzner to his famous Mauritian resort for some desperately needed recuperation.

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