The crack in the marriage of the Mandelas must have given the anti-marriage campaigners a potent new weapon last week, even if in their shock they have not remembered to load their guns.
The news the world’s celebrated couple were to find their levels, like a mixture of oil and water under pressure, indeed, sent shock waves all over the world. Many Nigerian women were disappointed and angry.
The men were dumbfounded. Here is a woman who sacrificed what to so many people was the most enjoyable portion of her marriage and life in faithful and loyal service to a man who was separated from her by the cruel, sturdy steel bars of a prison.
Here is a man who just when he should make up for the deprivation with whatever is left of his life is walking out into the night, leaving her again in the cold.
Nelson and Winnie Mandela remind me of that simple yet serious saying of all ages: birds of a feather flock together.
Nelson Mandela was a stormy young man. His first marriage could not work because his first wife could not bear the heat of his life. Winnie came on the scene. She was as hot as he wanted a companion to be.
Their lives stuck. He went to prison but returned calmer, more reflective. On the contrary, years of societal persecution and struggle for survival have toughened Winnie and made her hotter still. The centre could no longer hold.
Nelson and Winnie may be going their separate ways perhaps in recognition that marriage is supposed to be a union, not a merger, of two souls, each living in selfless service for the other, helping the other to attain the fuller value of existence.
If in the meantime they have become different persons, then this purpose which is not necessarily material, can no longer be served. One must therefore give way to the other.
There are echoes of this natural compulsion everywhere. Take a tree for example. When the vibrational state of the tree and that of the fruits which on account of having become ripe can no longer accord, the fruits must give way, or the entire tree must perish.
In like manner, at the appointed time, the foetus must go its way, either in spontaneous miscarriage, abortion or birth at full term, when the mother-foetus union no longer vibrates on a common note.
Nelson and Winnie, like us all, are subject to the law! Naturalness prescribes homogeneity as the basis of peace, beauty and happiness. Take it apart in the arrangement of musical notes, and noise erupts.
Colours are tones of life. Put a man in an environment the colours of which are at variance with his nature, his tone, and watch him waste away. Constitute a nation of dissimilar peoples and watch the world around them disintegrate.
We must congratulate Nelson and Winnie for courageously obeying the law and saving their sanity. A cycle has closed and another opens.
**\First published on this page on April 16, 1992 when the marriage collapsed that year.