Nomfundo Walaza - 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 photograph was taken on the day that we were invited to meet with the President, at a time when there was quite a lot of conflict between the organization known as PAGAD and communities that were affected by gang violence in the Western Cape.
I remember getting the call to say the President was going to see us. At first I didn’t quite believe it, thinking. ‘This is the President of the country. There’s PAGAD, there’s communities. How do you get a man of that stature to take an interest in such matters?’
He walks in. Of course he is tall, and I hadn’t anticipated that, I mean I knew he was tall, but I hadn’t realised -- being a tall person myself -- how tall he is. He walks in and shakes each and everyone’s hand.
Then we had the meeting. It was almost like a father feeling the pain of his people and coming to say, ‘It’s okay’. This is the man who is revered by the world and he is able to come to us as a peacemaker, and he holds our hand, and he says, ‘it’s going to be ok’.
I remember we walked out on the steps of Tuynhuys and there was this photo opportunity. And I’m looking up at him thinking, WOW, I need this picture’. I just remember thinking this is going to be the picture that will be the defining moment in my life.
If only my grandmother, who I revere as my hero, could have seen me in this moment, coming from where I come from. To be standing next to the most powerful man in the world, a father who cares for his people, and to feel and touch his soul. There was a sense of him being with us, that he is a leader who is with his people.
Quote: "It was almost like a father feeling the pain of his people and coming to say, ‘It’s okay’."
Collection: Moments with a Legend