Sunday, July 07, 2013

Having the Obituary Ready

One of the things radio stations and the print media have is an obituary file. It seems a little morbid, but if you are famous for anything chances are that someone's written you up for when you go. The broadsheets keep theirs up to date and have one or two 'professional' obituary writers. An amazing amount of political ones for instance seem to have been written by Tam Dalyell who was a  member of parliament for over forty years. From time to time you read the footnote that the obituarist has pre-deceased the subject.

And so, for the last two weeks or so, all of us who from time to time pop into radio studios to do thoughts for the day, even those of us who work at the bottom of that food chain, have had alternative thoughts in our bags in case ours is the over-night when the death of Nelson Mandela is announced.

It might be interesting to collect all the ones that were never delivered, after a respectful gap, and compare notes, although one of my colleagues did hers in all but headline using the idea, 'A Nation Waits'. Cunning.

And so, in passing, may I introduce one fact that I didn't know before I started cluing myself up. His real name isn't Nelson. It's Rolihlahla. It means, colloquially, 'troublemaker'. You may have also heard him called 'Madiba', a clan name, by his contemporaries.

The name Nelson was given to him by a teacher because he attended a primary school where all children had to have 'Christian' names. In fact it is an English name rather than a Christian one, given on his baptism, as it was a school he described in his own writings as having 'a British bias'. Mandela himself had no idea why it was chosen.

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