Leon Muller - 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.
This picture was taken at Tuynhuys, the official of the President in Cape Town. It could have been just after 1994. Nelson Mandela was addressing the media after meeting Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the Inkatha Freedom Party. There were lots of media, the international media were still fresh to Madiba and he was everything to them. After the media conference, I recall all the media were standing around and everyone wanted their picture taken with Madiba. I jumped in and Benny took a picture of me with him, which is very special to me.]
I’ve met Madiba loads of times. I was the photographer who followed him around for Independent Newspapers Cape. If there was word from the president’s office, we were there. I remember once we were travelling with him in Cape Town the morning after a bomb blast went off at Planet Hollywood. Out of the blue, he stuck out at Planet Hollywood, causing great concern to his security detail as nobody knew where he was going. Normally, people had to be prepared in advance for the president’s arrival. But, without preparing anything, he went to the scene of the blast. That’s why he’s so loved, today still.
People enjoyed watching Madiba greet people at Tuynhuys. He’d walk right to the gate adjacent to Government Avenue and chat to tourist and locals and introduce heads of state to the people. We were there to witness these moments. Once, myself and two other photographers rushed to the gate to catch him doing this. As one of the photographers reversed back, he fell into the pool. Madiba was there to give him a helping hand out of the pool.
When he was released from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl in 1990, we were in a convoy on the way to town with him while thousands of people waited at the Grand Parade. He was in a silver Toyota Cressida. Adderley Street was so jam-packed and filled with crowds, traffic stood still. I got out of my car, ran up to his car and took pictures of him. He was waving and smiling at me. He is so humble and down to earth.
I’ve got another picture of myself and him in which he shakes hands with me while wearing a chef’s hat at his presidential staff party, to which he invited myself and a few reporters. He once visited Newspaper House and shook hands with everybody in the newsroom.
Quote: "He’d walk right to the gate adjacent to Government Avenue and chat to tourists and locals and introduce heads of state."
Collection: Moments with a Legend