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.
I was blessed to be raised in a socially aware family. My parents were involved in the struggle for social justice in South Africa.
I grew up, like many others, knowing of Tata Madiba. I was aware of the fact that he and our other political leaders were imprisoned by the racist, undemocratic apartheid government. My family was fully aware of the apartheid government’s control measures to ensure as little contact between our incarcerated leaders and the outside world. Thus, my dad gave me the task of making birthday and Christmas cards for them since junior school. As a result, to this day, I still receive birthday cards and wishes from some of these great men.
My family also took the responsibility of hosting and transporting the family members of our incarcerated leaders when they visited Robben Island. My mum thus forged a close relationship with the Mandela family.
My dad was a lawyer, and his passion was representing the most vulnerable in our society, often fighting for the recognition of their most basic human rights. He represented and assisted anyone in need, with no discrimination to background or political affiliation.
By virtue of his profession, he forged relationships with Tata Madiba and our other leaders. My dad’s assistance went far beyond the formal relationship and requirements between a lawyer and client. As an example, my father, at Tata Madiba’s request, was responsible for arranging financial support for political prisoners to complete their formal education. Tata Madiba, after retiring from Presidential office, tried to reciprocate the favour to my dad by personally offering me a scholarship to complete a Masters in Law at the London School of Economics. I declined the offer, as I wanted to be at my dad’s side during his fight with cancer.
My dad found many reasons to visit Madiba and others while they were incarcerated, while my mother would drive Mama Winnie and other family members to visits at prison. My mum would also cook for Madiba and others on Christmas and Eid while they were incarcerated.
During the negotiation process, my dad had the honour of being part of Madiba’s team.
After the first democratic elections in 1994, my dad served as the Minister of Justice in Madiba’s Cabinet.
My parents were guests at Madiba’s wedding to Mama Graca Machel. At Tata Madiba’s request, my dad kept the event a secret from everyone, including my mum. This indicates the amount of trust and respect they had for each other. On the day of the wedding, my dad asked my mum to buy a certain gift and to wear a nice dress. She was however clueless of where they were going until they arrived at the venue.
Even after Tata Madiba had reduced his travelling because of his age, he visited our home on numerous occasions, when he had the opportunity. These visits were frequent after my Dad was diagnosed and battled cancer. Tata Madiba would offer encouragement and have many chats. It was heartwarming to see these two great men chatting and congratulating each other on the awards they had received.
During the final days of my Dad’s life, Madiba visited him in hospital and his final message to my Dad was, “You have served your country well, congratulations on a life well lived”.
The bond between the Mandelas and my family continues. My mum regularly enquires about Tata Madiba’s health with members of the Mandela family and had the privilege of being invited, by Tata Madiba, to the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of his being released from prison.
Quote: "During the final days of my dad’s life, Madiba visited him in hospital and his final message to my Dad was, ‘You have served your country well’."