"RATEGAN DOES MANDELA" LIFE ON THE EDGE
It’s called the Wild Coast, a death trap for seafarers, with powerful currents and unsailable winds.
Spotting a pathway over the corner of what seems like a manageable, low cliff he heads upwards, increasingly finding the footholds difficult: better for goats and crampioned climbers than a 52-year-old two-hundred pounder with spikeless golf shoes.
He finds himself trapped.Neither able to proceed further upwards nor go back.Looking down, he suddenly realises a slip would result in a fifty-foot tumble, broken limbs at least, or worse.The rock and the skull.
He fingers his cell phone and figures if he is still conscious he wonders if he can rustle up a chopper in 30 minutes, but his levity soon chills with the memories of a hundred bad dreams about exactly this sort of terrifying situation.The fact that he has had this dream so often convinces him that it is finally, actually going to happen.That stunned dark ringing skull-thump and then … blood in the shallows.
He is stuck on a cliff alone above a crashing ocean.He cannot go forward or back.Whenever he moves,his shoe slides, and shale cascades down the cliff and shatters on the rocks below.
A beautiful place to die, no doubt, but he does have a family to serve, love and sustain and, above all, a documentary to finish, the documentary of his career, the blueprint of a life to inspire millions worldwide.Albeit, so far, without a Mandela interview.People who know Rategan would dismiss very rapidly any suggestion that he had thrown himself off the cliff because he had failed to get his man.And this is not the time to remind himself that a hundred other documentary filmmakers could do the film.He is not irreplaceable.There might be that end note: Rategan Edwardes 1951-2003.
For the next five minutes he is seized with terror.Convinced any move will send him plunging.He clings, unmoving, to the cliff.
Eventually, inching his way back down he manages to gain a foothold on a rock ledge, but as he twists his body to plant the other foot, he slips on a rivulet of water and bounces down, gravity released, thwump, tearing skin off his clutching arm, banging his neck and nose, but coming to a thudding stop on the broad back of a vast rock, the last one above the waves.A thirty-foot drop.
He lies there, trembling, thinking of his dead nephew Rupert, his dying father, his cancerous sister, the blue sky, the sounds of life, gulps of life and breath, thankful to be alive.He decides he won’t tell anyone about this. He won’t.If he were to read about someone else doing it, he would say: “What an idiot.”
It’s the truth.It happened in this paradise.Where Millions of lives have been snuffed out by no education.No doctors here.But it produced Mandela, tough as this Rock.
It’s not the Man himself any more.It is the body of work that has been launched from the body of The Man.
“This life have I given that you may be free.”
Amen.Back to Homepage