Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mandela Turns on Charm to Gain Backing of More Whites S. African President Brings Nation `Together in a Tremendous Way'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mandela Turns on Charm to Gain Backing of More Whites S. African President Brings Nation `Together in a Tremendous Way'

Article excerpt

IT WAS JUST after 9 o'clock on a Sunday morning, and everybody at Ronald Kaftel's house was upstairs fast asleep when the doorbell rang.

Kaftel remembers wondering who could possibly be calling at that hour and then hearing his mother-in-law's voice wafting up the stairwell: "Ron, Ron. President Mandela's here."

Before long, Kaftel and his wife, daughter, father, mother-in-law, sister and niece - a few of them still in their pajamas - were chatting with their president about his favorite cakes and their fears of crime.

Canvassing for votes in the plush Houghton neighborhood - where black faces tend to belong to maids or gardeners - was a typical tour-de-force for Mandela, who celebrates his 77th birthday today venerated as the liberator of blacks and also the hero of many white South Africans.

By day's end, he had signed up 75 affluent whites to his African National Congress and boosted his legend as the most effective politician of any race this polarized country has seen.

Mandela has long been admired as a cult hero by the black majority. Now the same white community that less than a decade ago reviled him as a demon wonders how the country will possibly get along after he's gone.

Some analysts are concerned that whites are so enamored of him personally that they will be reluctant to give similar support to a successor. Mandela plans to step down in 1999 after one term as president.

White businessmen, appreciative of his government's disciplined, moderate economic policies after years of fearing ANC socialist roots, are rallying to support Mandela's pleas to help poor blacks.

At a daylong birthday celebration Monday at a amusement park in Johannesburg, Mandela collected more than $300,000 in donations from corporate sponsors and others for a fund to help street children.

White emigration from South Africa has slowed, and white separatists are talking to dwindling crowds. Although racial tension lies below the surface, it appears to be at a low ebb.

At no time was Mandela's magic more evident than at his appearance before South Africa won the Rugby World Cup final June 24 in Johannesburg's Ellis Park Stadium. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.