Respecting the sensibilities of Mandela’s family

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

A section of the family of Mr Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa, has expressed concern about media coverage of the former president’s illness, saying that some of the reports have caused the family distress.

Mandela’s eldest daughter criticised the international media camped outside the hospital in Pretoria where he is being treated, calling them “vultures”.

A statement from the South African Presidency last Sunday that Mandela was in a ‘critical’ condition switched the entire globe into a state of anxiety and  its attention to the Pretoria hospital.

In spite of the poor state of health of the man who led South Africa out of apartheid to an all-race democracy, there has been profound sadness among the people, including children, who spare no time in praying for and dropping cards and flowers in his house and the hospital where he is on admission.

We must all concede that the family of Mandela must be dealing with a very difficult situation but they must also accept that the former president is a hero of the world.

The whole world wants to share in the honour and pain of the man who defined modern South Africa by creating a legacy that transcends the boundaries of race,religion and status.

The Daily Graphic thinks that the media should be circumspect in their reportage in order not to offend the sensibilities of those who are directly affected by the three-week hospitalisation of Mr Mandela.

In a media-rich society or in an information age, the people, especially the media, are not particularly pleased with the terse statements from the presidency about Mr Mandela’s condition.

Madiba is a global icon, one of the 25 most influential people of the 20th Century who is loved in all parts of the world, and this explains why anything concerning him hit the headlines instantly.

Mr Mandela touched many lives and used his presidency to promote peaceful co-existence in the rainbow nation that experienced bloody moments during the apartheid era.

Madiba was exceptional. He came out of prison with a forgiving heart unheard of in the human setting, the reason for the show of profound love to him during these uncertain times.

The world, including the media, is only showcasing their gratitude for his leadership qualities.

He was a gift to the world and the Daily Graphic appeals to the family that while it falls within their mandate to apply the brakes if their sensibilities are offended by the reportage, they must make room for the world to celebrate this gem and a rare gift from God.

The good news is that there has been great improvement in the health conditions of Mr Mandela. But people continue to post get-well messages of well-wishes on the railings outside the hospital.

One of such messages read, “Today, we have better schools, I receive grant (sic) all thanks to you. Nutrition donates food to our crèche because of you. If it wasn’t for you, what would South Africa be?

The whole world prays for the speedy recovery of Mr Mandela. Get well soon to continue to inspire the world particularly the vulnerable.