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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.


Sent Saturday 4th March 1989

My beloved Tony [Mac],

How much has happened since those days of the 10th floor flat on Avenida Eduardo Mondlane! And it's all led to what we have both been unceasingly craving, the need to live out and not merely feel our commitment. That's why this anniversary has such a special meaning for me: it's our first one where I can say that at last we're jointly really in the thick of it, a tick that has given our lives the depth and meaning we so need. What keeps me going thro' all the pain of being apart from you is the belief that what's best can only be born of bitter blows not only to the enemy but, in the process, to ourselves. I therefore remain elated by what you're doing and by your courage and daring, tempered as these are by planning and caution. So we've much to celebrate this anniversary, Louco, and with such beautiful children at our sides we cannot but toast this moment of our lives with our song "Gracias a la Vida". Your beautiful msgs have been like a shot in the arm, helping me get back into the swing of things again. I'd have replied sooner, but since my return home I've been deep in the throes of re-organising things. What with both sis gone back to their own homes, and 5 months of mail, some on very urgent matters, to catch up on, I've been up to my eyeballs, stitches and all, in running around. And then there's Bax and Mangistu who are refusing to let go in spite of the really good work being done by the Chilean I recommended as substitute from Geneva. I've so far managed to keep them at bay but will have to have a heart-to-heart discussion again with them when Bax returns in a week's time or so. Then there's all the documentation to compile relating to the accident which Geneva require soonest. And all of last week was spent settling the Walisku affair. This has now gone through, in our favour, another reason to celebrate!

You say in one of your msgs that you still don't know the circumstances of my accident, yet long to know. This means you've perhaps not received my lengthy TK msg dated 1/1/89 which was collected by Rocky on 2nd Jan from me for dispatch to you.

2nd follows.

Sent Saturday 4th March 1989

Second of 3

In that msg I went into lots of details about lots of things, including the accident. But brief, I was on my way home from an official function of the PTA being held at Bax's residence. On the Kalingalinga Road I blacked out due to 'combat fatigue' and wrapped around a tree. Had been working under the most enormous pressure that week not only with Charles, Rocky, RP and PTA but also with the children and had lost so much sleep that I wanted to down the invitation on to Bax's. But he had specially wanted me to come so I had no choice. Now I learn that the accident having occurred while I was officially on duty had lots of implications which I'm only just beginning to look into.

The children are superb. Joey still gurgles with delight each time we talk about you, calling you an oven whenever I tell her that you'll be cuddling her up again one day. She 'complains' that you always feel so hot you might burn her! And Milou is amazingly self-contained considering all they've been through. He always lights up when we speak about you, saying with such pride that he wants to follow in your footsteps. He's doing very well at school, and so is Joey. She won top prize for poetry recital in her age group and when she appeared in front of the entire school to recite her poem, Milou couldn't help blurting out proudly "That's my sister". They hug and kiss you, and love you "above the skies and beneath the seas".

In spite of the circumstances the SU was an inspiring experience for me. I was treated really well, as all the other patients were, but what made my stay really special was big S. Although we were in quarantine for 5 weeks, he kept in touch by phone and when I was out of hospital, saw me whenever he could squeeze in some time. The warmth he generated is wonderful. Like you, he's a man of great energy and principle and humanity. He expressed deep concern about your safety, saying that the Boers would spend easily 10 million to catch you if they got so much as a whiff that that you are there. He indicated that you might be pushing your luck a bit – I only hope he's wrong. He sends you warmest regards and congratulations.

Part three next

Sent Saturday 4th March 1989

Last of 3:

By the way, I spent 10 days in the Crimea strengthening your legend, but Simon Makana thinks you're on some sort of mission there, not in hospital. And Lindi Mabuza, who spent the last 2 days with me, including the Bolshoi Ballet which was the most awesomely delightful experience, was very concerned about your condition. She was a lovely travelling companion back to Raymond's with me. Regards from her too. I also saw Natalya twice, and Daniele de Bruyn. Natalya sent you a little present when I left for the Crimea!

I haven't yet even unpacked properly and now I've to start thinking about my 4th operation which I'll be glad to get over and done with. I've a tentative date for 28th March, for the removal of the metal rod from my arm, which will allow easier movement in the shoulder region. The most I shall be in hospital will be 2 nights.

I cannot leave the kids behind…(bad data).. will be their last week of term, so have to start making arrangements for their care while I'm in hospital. Last time Paul (remember, Shir's X) rallied around me. He came from Masvingo specially to look after them while I was having my second operation to remove the wires from the collarbone, as S had left already. But I don't know if he'll be available again – still there are other possibilities to look into. I shall never f…(bad data)….heart, nor Alphons' spontaneity and warm reaction when he learnt of my eye problem. He went all out to get me to the SU and by the way expressed his admiration for you during that session. He said you're making a qualitative change to the struggle, you're making all the difference. The other comrades too have done a lot to help where they could.

It's as if these grueling 5 months never happened – what I care about now is the future, and us. I don't want to look back again because there's so much to look forward to.

Louco, I have to wind up for now. Remember the words of the soothsayer at Victoria Falls? I do believe he's right, and the years ahead are going to be many and far richer than we've ever known. In all the seasons of my emotions, too, I love you. The children feel as passionately, so keep on going, but carefully, please!!

Alongside you forever

Elsa [Zarina]

Received Monday 20th March 1989

Dearest Tony [Mac]

Trust you've received my extended anniversary message. Saw Janet [Joe Slovo] yesterday who advised that you've been asked to consider a break with us. Thought I should let you know that if such a break is on it would be preferable, as far as this is possible, if we could try to avoid disrupting the kids' schooling as this currently one of the few sources of stability in their lives. Andy they've already missed a lot of school as a result of my accident. Their holidays are from 1st to 25th April, then one week half-term in June and then all of August. Naturally the sooner we see you the better for us. Please advise the possibilities. Will be in Harare from 27th March to 31st March for my fourth operation. All love, Elsa .

Received Sun. 2nd Apr. 1989

Elsa: Many thanks for the beautiful letter you sent. Hope you are now back from the Harare operation & that it all went well. Keep wondering how you are coping with all the anesthetic! Informed the kids with Chims. How have they been coping with different people looking after them? Miss you three very much & keep thinking about our coming anniversary this month! Hope to advise you soon about our thinking this end re when etc I can visit you – your schedule re kids useful in this. What about your work situation in this regard? Are Peter & Brigitta still at Walisku's? Also has Irene been playing straight or is it still rounders? When will eye stitches be removed & where? Deepest love & kisses to you and the children (don't think I'd recognize them!) from Mr. Rush.

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