Ariel Dorfman and Nelson Mandela
July 28, 2010 – Ariel Dorfman, world-acclaimed Chilean-American author, human rights activist and professor of literature and Latin American studies at Duke University, met with Nelson Mandela today at his office in Houghton.
It was the first time that the two had met.
Dorfman, who will present the Eighth Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture at the Linder Auditorium in Johannesburg this Saturday, described meeting Mr Mandela as “a great joy”.
“It was a great joy to meet Madiba and to see him so well and so alert and smiling,” he said after the meeting. “I appreciate enormously that he was able to go out because he rarely does this, and so it was a great honour that he was able to meet me.”
He added: “I am very glad that I was able to meet him because I did say to him that he had carried us – his people, the people of the world, his family – for many, many years. And that now it was time for us to carry him. And I think that’s the message that I would like to give to South Africa: If you love Madiba, let him live well and let him be himself.”
Dorfman served as cultural advisor to Salvador Allende, Chile’s president from 1970 to 1973. The democratically elected Allende died during the coup staged by Augusto Pinochet. This coup also resulted in the death and disappearance of thousands of Chileans, and forced Dorfman to flee into exile.
During the meeting Dorfman described the similarities between the South African and the Chilean freedom struggles.
The Eighth Nelson Mandela Lecture will be the last event on Dorfman’s 10-day visit to South Africa as the guest of the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Centre of Memory and Dialogue. During his visit he spoke in four cities: Cape Town, Grahamstown, Pretoria and Johannesburg. The author of many novels, plays, poems, essays and films will speak on the theme of “Memory and Justice” at Saturday’s event.