V. S. Naipaul’s wife defends her interview with Winnie Mandela

Defending herself from claims by Nelson Mandela’s embattled former wife and ANC national executive committee member Winnie Madikizela that she never gave an interview to journalist Nadira Naipaul, the wife of Trinidadian Nobel Prize winner V. S. Naipaul urged ­Mandela to “stand by her controversial words and show the great leadership for which she has become known.” Lady Naipaul spoke to City Press about last week’s explosive ­interview with Madikizela-Mandela in London’s Evening Standard newspaper. Speaking from her home in Wiltshire, England, Naipaul said that she stood by the contents of the interview, which was conducted in July last year when she visited Madikizela-Mandela’s home in Soweto with her husband, Nobel literature prize laureate Sir VS Naipaul.

The interview made headlines across the world, notably because of Madikizela- ­Mandela’s perceived attack on her former ­husband’s legacy. She was quoted as saying that Mandela had “sold out” black South Africans and that the Mandela name was “an albatross around the necks” of her and her family.

Naipaul said yesterday that she wrote her ­article “with great respect and admiration” for Madikizela-Mandela, and she was disappointed that the latter was now denying she had granted the interview. The meeting arose out of a conversation Naipaul had with guests at a dinner party, several of whom were criticizing Madikizela-Mandela: “They were reviling her and I was defending her.”

City Press has, however, independently verified that the Naipauls did pay a visit to Madikizela-Mandela at her Orlando East home last year during the couple’s brief stay in ­Johannesburg. The author, whom some have called the greatest living writer in the English language, was in South Africa researching material for his new book which is reportedly about “earth ­religions” on the continent. V. S. Naipaul – who met with a wide range of people during his stay, from kwaito stars to sangomas and “diversity trainers” – requested an audience with Madikizela-Mandela to discuss how her religious beliefs had sustained her ­during her numerous detentions and imprisonments under apartheid. Nadira Naipaul, who took notes during the ­interview, disputed that Madikizela-­Mandela thought she was having a private conversation. “She was very open. Also, she knew that Vidia was researching a book and that I was a journalist. If she was a real statesman she would stand by everything she said, and not deny it.”

Nadira, who until her marriage and relocation to England had written under the name ­Nadira Khannum Alvi, was an influential and well-known journalist and columnist in her ­native Pakistan. She also contributed ­to ­several UK publications, including Tatler magazine.

She said Madikizela-Mandela should have used the opportunity provided by the publication of the interview to articulate what was on the minds of many ordinary South Africans.

Asked why she thought her interview had ­become such a sensation, she said: “I think it’s because she is voicing what some people (in South Africa) feel but would never dare say.”

Naipaul said of Madikizela-Mandela’s denial: “No one has the courage to tell it like it is, and she did.”

For more from the City Press interview go to   http://www.citypress.co.za/Content/SouthAfrica/Features/2167/11b5cec00be046b4832c1ca84a1d1863/15-03-2010-01-09/%E2%80%98I_gave_Winnie_the_chance_to_rise_again%E2%80%99

6 thoughts on “V. S. Naipaul’s wife defends her interview with Winnie Mandela

  1. Nadira is a pathetic sellout. im ashamed she claims to be a pakistani muslim when she is nothing but a lying fraud. I hope she just disappears and stops trying to degrade Islam and Pakistanis! My parents are both Pakistanis, born and raised there and then came to London. They sent me to one of the best private schools in England and allowed me to make my own choices in life. NEVER was i forced to do anything i didnt want to do. I moved out for university with no problems whatsoever and then decided to go and stay in Pakistan OUT OF MY OWN choice. I was fed up of seeing half naked women everywhere, selling their dignity, slaves to men’s sexual desires. I started wearing a hijab and an abiya OUT OF MY OWN CHOICE. My mother doesn’t cover her hair so my decision was most definately not forced upon me as many ignornant people love to claim. This way of life is LIBERATING. Not having men constantly staring at me and trying to chat me up. The women who disagree with the Islamic dress code are quite simply attention craving as they know no other way of life but to be made to feel ‘special’ by men who only want them to satisfy their sexual needs. God willing they will see sense as the MILLIONS of reverts in our world have.

    1. Shireen if you are so free to deress and live in Islamic way, please be so kind to let other million women to live and dress just as they like just because they want it, and not to “feel special by men who only want them to satisfy their sexual needs”. Maybe this is a big problem for you, maybe a good psycoanalist would have helped you to understand that not all women want to seduce a man when they dress themselves for work or bring children at school… maybe this was what YOU did! more respect from Islam women for not Islam women please, you’re not better of anyone else

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