Apparently the BBC has had over 1300 complaints thus far about over-coverage of Mandela’s death. And life, presumably.
Not knowing the exact nature of the complaints, I’m guessing BBC listeners are finding it all too foreign and far away; exactly the reaction I got from most UK publishers and literary agents who rejected my first novel, Salt & Honey.
In both instances, my perspective is, I admit, partisan. Nevertheless, the complaints are puzzling. Few would dispute that Nelson Mandela was the statesman of the 20th century; a man with the humility, humanity and moral stature not seen since the death of Gandhi. He liberated millions of black South Africans from Apartheid, and millions of white South Africans from the ignominy of having lived in that society. Globally, he inspired a generation, as we heard from Barak Obama, first Black president of the United States, at the Mandela memorial service. He was one of the decreasing number of celebrities famous for actually achieving something.
How many complaints did the coverage of the death of Jade not-so Goody elicit, I wonder? Or the recent prominence given to the petty cash fiddling by the staff of a TV cook and her former Mad-men husband? Was it just the three I heard on Feedback on BBC R4 on Sunday?
I wonder if the Mandela-whingeing Poms felt that the blanket media coverage of the death of Princess Diana in other parts of the world was excessive or justified? I’m sure they took pride in the respect being paid to this daughter of England and her relatively modest achievements.
‘Bah humbug’ I say to those questioning the Beeb’s news values decisions. Aside from his global prominence, the coverage is seasonally appropriate. Madiba symbolized tolerance and good will to all.
And he was such fun.