u|Chief interviewed best-selling novelist Wilbur Smith ahead of Nelson Mandela Day 2015.
What does Mandela Day mean to you?
To me, it is a wonderful reminder of the end of Apartheid and the beginning of a new South Africa. I always thought it had to come. I only met Madiba once and it was a very brief opportunity for me, but what I remember from our meeting was that his smile was a thing of beauty and goodness. I knew from our brief meeting that the man was as good as I believed him to be based on how he came across on TV. His presence and aura was a beautiful thing and it was instantly apparent to me that he had really deep down goodness and care for other people. His humbleness also made a huge impact on me.
“I only met Madiba once and it was a very brief opportunity for me, but what I remember from our meeting was that his smile was a thing of beauty and goodness.” – Wilbur Smith
How important is the spirit of giving for all South Africans?
I think it is a fine thing but, sadly, it is in short supply. I believe that the initiative of donating 67 minutes one’s time on Mandela Day in honour of President Mandela is wonderful, but 67 minutes is not enough time. You have to devote your thoughts and your spare time wherever you can – and anytime you see black people or white people in need then it is an opportunity for you to give in some small way. Not enough people are willing to do this as they are too wrapped up in their own projects and their way of life.
How are you enjoying life?
I am loving life. I have had a few ups and downs as people my age do, but I am really enjoying life… and having a good woman by your side really helps you to enjoy the journey.
Share a couple of quotes that will help others to understand you a little bit better.
I don’t get inspired by other people but I am inspired by my own thoughts. More of the same is my motto in life.
Which of your fictional characters has or would it be most difficult for you to kill off in a story?
Unfortunately, everyone has to die, even my characters. I think Ernest Hemingway said it best when he said that the end of every story is death… and he who tried to hide this fact is no real writer.
- Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons