Marius Fransman - 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 a picture tells a thousand words, then a moment is hardly adequate to capture a legend, a legion and indeed a lion of the struggle of the oppressed people’s of the world. Perhaps it is a sign of the statuesque greatness of the man that he made the simplest of acts significant and made the most insignificant amongst us feel relevant and important. So it was on a September morning in 1996 that a simple question will forever remind me of my moment with a legend.
Vredendal is a typical South African little rural town on the West Coast of the Western Cape with a tiny population. It had been a bastion of right-wing Afrikaner conservatism under apartheid but over time had become a vestige of Madiba’s political home, the African National Congress (ANC). This was largely as a result of the support of the rural coloured working class and the groundbreaking work that young cadres such as myself were doing amongst farm workers and other critical sectors.
Madiba had been awarded the Freedom of Vredendal a year or so earlier and I had played no significant part in bestowing that accolade. He undoubtedly was a worthy recipient and perhaps the bestower was more honoured by the distinction than the recipient. The details of the process, the ream of administrative acts, the pile of logistics and of course the painstaking protocol that such a process would have entailed – all of this is now beyond my recollection, including my own role in the process.
Not so for Madiba. Nearly two years removed from the event, and geographically far from the place; when any insignificant detail could hardly have been expected to be recalled, he looked me straight into the eye and in an instant placed me – “How is Vredendal?” he asked.
Quote: "He looked me straight into the eye and in an instant placed me, ‘How is Vredendal?’ he asked."
Collection: Moments with a Legend