Nelson Mandela, things I didn’t know

“God does not look at colours; He looks at the hearts.”

Abdu’l-Bahá, the Baha’i faith

I’ve chosen some excerpts from an excellent New York Times article written by BILL KELLER about this remarkable man I didn’t know and helps me understand he was a human, neither black, nor white, neither saint nor sinner.

  • Mandela-articleLarge“He was born Rolihlahla Mandela on July 18, 1918, in Mvezo, a tiny village of cows, corn and mud huts in the rolling hills of the Transkei, a former British protectorate in the south. His given name, he enjoyed pointing out, translates colloquially as “troublemaker.” He received his more familiar English name from a teacher when he began school at age 7. His father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, was a chief of the Thembu people, a subdivision of the Xhosa nation.
    Nine years later, on the death of his father, young Nelson was taken into the home of the paramount chief of the Thembu — not as an heir to power, but in a position to study it. He would become worldly and westernized, but some of his closest friends would always attribute his regal self-confidence (and his occasional autocratic behavior) to his upbringing in a royal household.”
  • “Unlike many black South Africans, whose confidence had been crushed by generations of officially proclaimed white superiority, Mr. Mandela never seemed to doubt that he was the equal of any man. “The first thing to remember about Mandela is that he came from a royal family,” said Ahmed Kathrada, an activist who shared a prison cellblock with Mr. Mandela and was part of his inner circle. “That always gave him a strength.”’
  • “On returning to his home village, he learned that his family had chosen a bride for him. Finding the woman unappealing and the prospect of a career in tribal government even more so, he ran away to the black metropolis of Soweto, following other young blacks who had left mostly to work in the gold mines around Johannesburg.”
  • “Mr. Mandela, though he never completed his law degree, opened the first black law partnership in South Africa with Mr. Tambo. He took up amateur boxing, rising before dawn to run roadwork. Tall and slim, he was also somewhat vain. He wore impeccable suits, displaying an attention to fashion that would much later be evident in the elegantly bright loose shirts of African cloth that became his trademark.”
  • “During his years as a young lawyer in Soweto, Mr. Mandela married a nurse, Evelyn Ntoko Mase, and they had four children, including a daughter who died at 9 months. But the demands of his politics kept him from his family. Compounding the strain was his wife’s joining the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a sect that abjures any participation in politics. The marriage grew cold and ended with abruptness.”
  • “He said, ‘Evelyn, I feel that I have no love for you anymore,’ ” his first wife said in an interview for a documentary film. “ ‘I’ll give you the children and the house.’ ”
  • “Not long afterward, a friend introduced him to Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela, a stunning and strong-willed medical social worker 16 years his junior. Mr. Mandela was smitten, declaring on their first date that he would marry her. He did so in 1958, while he and other activists were in the midst of a marathon trial on treason charges. His second marriage would be tumultuous, producing two daughters and a national drama of forced separation, devotion, remorse and acrimony.”
  • “South Africa’s rulers were determined to put Mr. Mandela and his comrades out of action. In 1956, he and scores of other dissidents were arrested on charges of treason. The state botched the prosecution, and after the acquittal Mr. Mandela went underground. Upon his capture he was charged with inciting a strike and leaving the country without a passport. His legend grew when, on the first day of that trial, he entered the courtroom wearing a traditional Xhosa leopard-skin cape to underscore that he was an African entering a white man’s jurisdiction.
    • “Mr. Mandela was 44 when he was manacled and put on a ferry to the Robben Island prison. He would be 71 when he was released.”
    • “The routine on Robben Island was one of isolation, boredom and petty humiliations, met with frequent shows of resistance. By day the men were marched to a limestone quarry, where the fine dust stirred up by their labors glued their tear ducts shut.”
    • “But in some ways prison was less arduous than life outside in those unsettled times. For Mr. Mandela and others, Robben Island was a university. In whispered conversations as they hacked at the limestone, and in tightly written polemics handed from cellblock to cellblock, the prisoners debated everything from Marxism to circumcision.”
    • “Mr. Mandela learned Afrikaans, the language of the dominant whites, and urged other prisoners to do the same.”

    I encourage you to read the entire article about this remarkable man.

  • Click here

Pecan Pie Truffles

The holidays are coming and it is my duty to help you prepare.  So here’s a treat you can freeze ahead of time.  Since I’ve not made these you’d better try them first and let me know if I should make them.

Pecan Pie Truffles

“Get ready for the most intense holiday goodie you’ve ever tried. These fabulous truffles, created by the VegNews food columnist Hannah Kaminsky, are outrageously flavorful and combine the best part of pecan pie (pecans, sugar and bourbon) in a thin layer of smooth chocolate. Like traditional rum balls, these offer a slightly alcoholic kick, so be sure to monitor any underage guests!”

2 1/2 cups pecans, toasted and finely chopped

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 cup bourbon

1 teaspoon vanilla

7 ounces dark chocolate

TEST BATCH Preparation
1. In a medium bowl, stir together pecans, graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and salt until well combined. Add maple syrup, bourbon and vanilla, stirring thoroughly. Use your hands to make sure the mixture becomes fully incorporated. (lick your fingers to make sure the mixture isn’t spoiled).

2. Form mixture into walnut-sized balls,(Lick fingers some more to make sure mixture hasn’t spoiled in the process) then place on a cookie sheet (Eat a few of the balls to make sure the texture is right) and freeze for 2 hours. (The best way to tell if the balls are frozen is to eat a ball every few minutes)

3. (Eat some chocolate first to make sure it’s not spoiled) In the top of a double boiler or in a medium stainless steel bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water, melt chocolate.  (Taste melted chocolate to make sure it’s the right consistency) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (Before dipping, eat a couple of frozen balls to make sure they are still frozen) Dip the frozen balls into the melted chocolate,  (Eat more balls to make sure that the chocolate and the other ingredients are compatible) then place onto prepared baking sheet. Let sit for 15 minutes or until firm. (The best way to tell if balls are firm is to eat a few balls every few minutes)

4.  If any Pecan Pie Truffles are left, eat them and finish off the bottle of bourbon.  You deserve to celebrate the fact you are prepared for the holidays way ahead of time.

Yield: 24 truffles.

Chocolate, pecan pie

Bourbon gives a tiny kick

Don’t truffle with me.

Proof Exercise is Exhausting (Parenthetically Speaking)

February 29, 2008, 1:12 pm

The Cure for Exhaustion? More Exercise?

fatigureFeeling fatigued? (George Ruhe for The New York Times)

When a person is sapped by fatigue, the last thing he or she wants to do is exercise. But new research shows that regular, low-intensity exercise may help boost energy levels in people suffering from fatigue.

(I do low intensity exercise EVERY day, like walk from my office to the bathroom down the hall, Type slowly and I’m still fatigued.)

Fatigue is one of the most common health symptoms and can be a sign of a variety of medical problems. However, about one in four people suffers from general fatigue not associated with a serious medical condition.  (That’s reassuring)

University of Georgia researchers decided to study whether exercise can be used to treat fatigue. The research, which appears in the February issue of the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, involved 36 volunteers who were not regular exercisers but who complained of persistent fatigue.

One group of fatigued volunteers was prescribed 20 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise three times a week for six weeks. The second group engaged in low-intensity aerobic exercise for the same time period, while a third control group did not exercise.

The study volunteers used exercise bikes that allowed the researchers to control their level of exertion. The low-intensity exercise was equivalent to a leisurely, easy walk. The more intense exercise was similar to a fast-paced walk up hills. ( I live on a very hilly neighborhood)  Patients with fatigue due to serious medical conditions, such as those with chronic fatigue syndrome, weren’t included in the study.  (Now they tell me.)

Both of the exercise groups had a 20 percent increase in energy levels by the end of the study, compared to the control group. However, the researchers found that more intense exercise isn’t the best way to reduce fatigue. The low-intensity group reported a 65 percent drop in feelings of fatigue, compared to a 49 percent drop in the group doing more intense exercise.

“Too often we believe that a quick workout will leave us worn out — especially when we are already feeling fatigued,” said researcher Tim Puetz, in a news release. Dr. Puetz recently completed his doctorate at the university and is the lead author of the study. “However, we have shown that regular exercise can actually go a long way in increasing feelings of energy — particularly in sedentary individuals.”

Why exercise helps fatigue isn’t clear, but Dr. Puetz said his findings suggest exercise acts directly on the central nervous system to increase energy and reduce fatigue. Notably, the improvements in energy and fatigue were not related to increases in aerobic fitness.( I resent the implication that I’m sedentary just because my job forces me to sit in a chair all day and talk to people)

  1. The most important question to ask is, which people within the exercise groups benefitted and which did not? Did some people feel less fatigue, while others had no response? And, if so, what are the differences between responders and non responders in the exercising groups? The model used in Chinese medicine may provide some insight. Fatigue essentially breaks down into two categories those who have too little energy, and those whose energy is stuck stagnant) and unavailable to them. The stagnant type of fatigue would respond to exercise, as the physical movement gets the previously unavailable energy moving and available. The deficient (too little) energy people would not improve with exercise. (I’m sure I’m deficient so it’s better that I not exercise )In fact, the deficient group might become worse due to the consumption of energy that is already too little. This might explain the less desirable response in the higher intensity exercise group compared to the lower intensity exercise group. It would be wonderful to see these questions answered so that physicians could know which patient should exercise more, and which one should get more rest. (I’m going to show this to my doctor the next time she tells me I need more exercise.)