South Africans were informed on Friday morning that Roelof 'Pik' Botha passed away at the age of 86. Botha was one of South Africa's longest-serving foreign ministers and was considered a good man in a bad government.
Pik Botha served as Minister of Foreign Affairs during and after the apartheid era, but there was more to him than that.
Briefly.co.za gathered information about the former minister and learned some interesting facts about him.
1. Pik Botha was nicknamed after penguins
'Pik' was short for the Afrikaans word for penguin - 'pikkewyn'. Roelof was given this name for how he looked when he wore a suit - like a penguin. The name stuck with him all his life.
2. He loved his drinks
Many knew that Botha enjoyed drinking alcohol. He was famous for always having drinks at hand during negotiations and after interviews with journalists.
One occasion that is often remembered happened during a long flight. Botha filled an ice bucket with the contents of various miniature bottles of alcohol and produced a lethal concoction. He passed this around like an African calabash.
When the concoction was finished, Botha "threw" the empty bottles – like a sangoma does with bones – and predicted the futures of the journalists.
3. Botha was a poet at heart - "Forget me. Who am I? In time and space, I am nothing."
Botha had a very sentimental poetic streak. He once wrote a poem on a cigarette box while sitting next to a campfire.
Who am I?/an astronaut/a passenger/an animal/an almoner/a rover/hunter often missing the mark/thief who lies and deceives/wage earner/cave dwell-er/Afrikaner/twister of facts/middle-aged man/awaiting the grave/summonsed and awaiting trial/victim of my own thoughts/the hunter and the hunted/defenceless before fate/beachcomber and shipwreck/bruised branch/smoking wick/hypocritical believer..."
4. He predicted South Africa would eventually have a black president
In February 1986 Botha said it's possible that South Africa could one day have a black president.
The then-president P.W. Botha was furious and made him acknowledge it was not "part of government policy".
5. Botha walked away from the National Party and joined the African National Congress
Botha announced his decision to join the ANC under the rule of President Thabo Mbeki in 2000, according to a report by AllAfrica.
Botha felt that the ANC offered South Africans a better and more democratic future.
6. His successful negotiation for Namibian independence was considered his greatest achievement
Botha applied diplomatic charm to the max when he negotiated for the independence of Namibia. The talks to achieve this involved the United States and Cuba. He signed the agreement that freed Namibia in 1988.
Botha passed away on 12 October after being sick for 3 weeks, as reported on earlier by Briefly.co.za.
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