Nelson Mandela's life in Mozambique told in pictures
HAPPY MEMORIES: Mozambican businessman Abilio Soeiro shows Nelson Mandela pictures in his book entitled Thank You, Madiba, which recalls the time they were friends and neighbours in Maputo. "MY LIFE was totally transformed by this man," Mozambican businessman Abilio Soeiro says, trying to put into words how the entrance of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela into his life changed everything. The afternoon sunlight slants into the drawing room of Mr Soeiro’s home in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, where signed portraits of his famous friend line the walls.
Because of his "special organisational skills", he says, he was asked to help organise the couple’s housewarming party. As he began to move in the same circles as Madiba, their friendship deepened into one of mutual respect and affection.
"Bio", as Madiba affectionately called him, came to be defined by his relationship to the elder statesman. Naomi Campbell, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Bono — you name them, he has met the celebrities and "they would not have been interested in me if I did not know Mr Mandela".
Although Mr Mandela came to Maputo to escape the political limelight in South Africa, his presence was like a magnet, attracting the glitterati to Maputo during the time he spent there. A regular guest at these functions, Mr Soeiro collected the photographs and memorabilia (including dinner menus) and the result provides a unique window, not just of Mr Mandela’s influence on Mozambique’s social fabric (where his wife Graca is known as Mama Graca), but also of his deepening relationship with his new family, the Machel-Sambine clan.
"These years he spent getting to know his Mozambican family is a part of Nelson Mandela’s life nobody has written about really," Mr Soeiro says explaining why he wrote the book. "I believe he must have felt very happy here and enjoyed life in Maputo.
"Mr Mandela received such tenderness, not just from Graca, but also from her children. You won’t find long snatches of deep conversation between the two men or insights into Mandela’s inner intellectual life in the book.... Read the full, comprehensive news article and discuss at Business Day