While the world has feared that South Africa’s revered former president, Nelson Mandela, may not have long to live, his aides remain unconcerned and insist there is no way he will be taken from us before he has finished every last item on the ‘bucket list’ he drew up in his final year in prison on Robben Island.
‘It began as an informal wish list,’ recalls Simon Mbangwa, Mandela’s long-time right-hand man. ‘When they cleared out Madiba’s cell, they found scratched on the wall ‘End apartheid’, ‘Win presidency’, ‘Hand Rugby World Cup to captain of multi-racial Springbok team’ and ‘Meet the Spice Girls’. The Afrikaaner establishment scoffed, but you all know what happened next.’
Despite everything he has achieved and his withdrawal from public life in his eighties, Mandela has continued to add ever more improbable targets to his bucket list every year, and it is his insistence on ticking each of them off that aides say is keeping him going.
‘I was worried about his health at first,’ continued Mbangwa, ‘but I knew he would pull through as soon as I found a piece of paper at his hospital bedside with ‘Watch Mumford & Sons headline Glastonbury’, ‘See pictures of royal baby’ and ‘Watch British player win Wimbledon’ all crossed through in shaky handwriting. It’s just ‘Read Fifty Shades of Grey‘ and ‘Bungee jump from Victoria Falls’ left to do now.’
The ANC is confident that Mandela will be around for a while yet. ‘He’s also set himself goals to end poverty and eradicate HIV, and he’s only two series through his Downton Abbey box set.’