We must not hide, says Mandela as he weeps for the son killed by Aids
In Africa, it is the killer disease that many will not discuss openly. But Nelson Mandela broke down in tears yesterday as he told the world that his son had died of Aids.
The great statesman summoned the world's media to the front door of his home in Johannesburg to announce that his only surviving son, Makgatho, 54, had succumbed to the virus.
His country's elite refuses to acknowledge the enormous death toll caused by HIV/Aids. But the former South African President, 86 and increasingly frail, found the strength to admit that his family, like so many others in South Africa, had lost a loved one to Aids.
"We must not hide the cause of death of our respected families because that is the only way we can make people understand that HIV is an ordinary illness. That's why we have called you today to announce that my son has died of Aids," Mr Mandela said.
"I hope that as time goes on we will realise that it is important for us to talk openly about Aids, because it is the only way to make it appear normal, like cancer."
Mr Mandela said that he had argued in favour of breaking the taboo surrounding the disease for years, long before he knew that his son was suffering from Aids.
Makgatho, a lawyer, had been receiving treatment for several months. His wife, Zondi, died of pneumonia, one of the diseases that affect Aids sufferers, in 2003.
Mr Mandela, who was surrounded by family members yesterday, cancelled several engagements during the past month to remain close to his ailing son. He has three daughters, one from his first marriage, and two from his second marriage to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Mr Mandela lost his first son, Madiba Thembekile, in a car crash in 1969.
Despite the mounting toll from Aids, and some five million cases - the highest HIV/Aids caseload in the world - few public figures have come forward to say that Aids has affected their families.
Yesterday Aids activists were quick to applaud Mr Mandela's decision to go public with the cause of his son's death. Grant Law, of the Topsy Foundation, said that one of the best ways of erasing the stigma attached to the disease was the involvement of the family. "We applaud Mandela for coming out in this way and making Aids a family issue," he said.
statesman: a man who is a leader in national or international affairs（政治家，国内国际事务中的领导者）
succumb to: 死于，屈服于
caseload: the number of cases handled in a given period, as by an attorney or by a clinic or social services agency（待处理案件之数量）
stigma: a mark or token of infamy, disgrace, or reproach（耻辱，恶名）
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