Donny Thebus - 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.
If memory serves me correctly this photograph was taken during the run-up to the first South African Local Government Election in 1996 in Cape Town.
To provide a narrative of the photograph after 15 years would appear to be difficult for some, especially for a close protector, as logic would dictate that one’s focus was on the perceived threat and risks to the President at the time. But for the few of us who actively participated in the anti-apartheid struggle as students and youth in the 1980’s and later to become part of President Nelson Mandela’s permanent close protection detail, every day working with “The Old Man” turned out to be seminal moment in our own historical narrative.
For me, and others, these moments represented the hitherto success of our own political activism and consciousness fused with the resilience of a visionary leader such as President Nelson Mandela, who industriously set out to build non-racialism and a common humanity for all South Africans.
The late Raymond Beta, a close protector, looks upon President Mandela with the awe in which he was held by all close protectors who had the honor of working for him. It is this gaze that we all had at times as close protectors, that here we had a President that we need to protect as a living legend, but who, at the same time, represented and espoused our hopes and aspirations for the future of all South Africans.
I guess this is what is reflective from the community’s response in the photograph, the acknowledgement that here is a man that not only inspired our historical moment, but makes us feel that we are an integral part of making our own history together.
Quote: "He makes us feel that we are an integral part of making our own history together."
Collection: Moments with a Legend