Crystal Orderson - Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
Welcome to the Nelson Mandela Digital Archive Project. Our aim is to locate, document, digitise, and provide access to all archival materials related to Nelson Mandela. This is a work in progress. Here is a selection of materials arranged in exhibits for your enjoyment.
17 May 1996
Athlone, Cape Town
It was a mild day for May, in 1996. I was a recent graduate of the Peninsula Technikon journalism department and was six months into my new job as a television reporter for the SABC television news unit.
‘Eager, excited and ready to tell stories to the nation,’ was my mantra. My eagerness was contagious and my editor had at times to contain my excitement for stories.
On this day, 17 May 1996, the editor informed me that I was to cover President Nelson Mandela in the flesh. My, my, I could not believe it. I was over the moon. Imagine, a 20-year-old junior reporter being asked to cover the President on a visit to several schools on the Cape Flats? This was the stuff dreams are made off.
The brief was to follow President Mandela on his visit to schools in the Athlone area, and to a meeting of educators and pupils at the local stadium.
Mandela was sent to re-assure teachers that their jobs were not on the line although certain cutbacks were necessary in the education department.
We arrived at the school in Athlone to the sounds of Nkosi Sikele’ iAfrica. Pupils were ready to welcome the President.
Mandela, the ever-charming man, was all ears listening to pupils and teachers. And then it was time for a walk-about at the local stadium.
It was my moment to ask the President a question. I was shaking, nervous and felt incoherent. But as a young journalist, I was determined not to be intimidated by the President – and nogals Mandela for that matter.
Of course Mandela was the statesman that so many millions loved, and he answered in a firm but polite way.
Voila, there I had my great sound bite, great story, and of course first ever question to the great revered statesman.
Quote: "He answered in a firm but polite way."
Collection: Moments with a Legend