Nurahn Ryklief - 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.
In 1997, the year I wrote matric, I had taken my baby cousin, Laiqah out for the day to the Waterfront in Cape Town. We’d done some shopping, and some window-shopping, and were just walking around when I noticed a bit of a commotion. President Mandela was there, surrounded by a group of people. It was a little distance away and we carried on, on our way, but the next moment I saw that he was walking straight over to me, bodyguards and all.
He though I was Laiqah’s mother. I told him I was not the mother; that it was my baby cousin and that I was a matriculant. Then he asked if he could hold the baby. I remember him asking what “his” name was, and I told him that it was actually a girl. He just held Laiqah, and hugged her. He seemed so content.
For us, it was like history in the making. Here was this great man, revered around the world, who’d taken the trouble to walk over to us and demonstrate his love for children. In the next few days we tried to track down one of the photographers who had been present. We learned that Benny Gool had been there, and made contact with him to ask if we could get a copy of the picture.
The photograph has become a family treasure. I have a copy, my mother has one, and a third is displayed in pride of place at my granny’s house.
Laiqah has no memories of the encounter; she was just seven-months-old. I remember thinking: ‘Wow! This is such an important man, and yet he is so humble and so loving of his people.’ He just walked straight over and took the child off my shoulder.
Quote: "The next moment I saw that he was walking straight over to me, bodyguards and all."
Collection: Moments with a Legend