Anecdote Nelson Mandela

A good friend, Jessie Duarte, remembers how Nelson Mandela always made his own bed almost offending the Chinese.

“He always made his own bed, no matter where we travelled. I remember we were in Shanghai, in a very fancy hotel, and the Chinese hospitality requires that the person, who cleans your room and provides you with your food, does exactly that. If you do it for yourself, it could even be regarded as an insult.

So in Shanghai I tried to say to him, ‘Please don’t make your own bed, because there’s this custom here.’ And he said, ‘Call them, bring them to me.’

So I did. I asked the hotel manager to bring the ladies who would be cleaning the room, so that he could explain why he himself has to make his own bed, and that they not feel insulted. He didn’t ever want to hurt people’s feelings. He never really cared about what great big people think of him, but he did care about what small people thought of him. That used to amaze me. He didn’t mind if he insulted a very important person, or said something to them that was unkind, because he said they could fend and fight for themselves. But he would never insult someone who did not have power.”

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