Shannon Neill - 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 a rally in Manenberg, Cape Town, a few days before the 1994 elections. At the time I worked for South newspaper, a struggle publication that focused extensively on more marginalised communities. At the time this photo was taken, gang shootings and murders were a daily occurence in Manenberg. My editor had asked me to see if I could get a comment on Mr Mandela’s plans to deal with crime, and particularly gang violence, on the Cape Flats. As Mr Mandela approached the stage I moved forward to ask for short interview and one of his bodyguards blocked my way. Although it looks as if the bodyguard was grabbing me by the breast, he in fact gently, but very firmly, pushed me back out of Mr Mandela’s way. Mr Mandela noticed what was happening and intervened. He called me back and said he would grant me an interview after his speech. Despite the fact this was just one of four rallies he was addressing this day, Mr Mandela gave me my exclusive, even though by national standards South newspaper was relatively insignificant.
Mr Mandela always struck me as a deeply sincere person. Listening to him speak you were never left feeling that he was talking to score political points or to advance an agenda. He was warm, gentle, funny, stern, honest and gracious. He always left me feeling that I would be as happy chatting to him over a glass of wine, as I would watching him lead our country.
Mr Mandela felt like a freedom fighter rather than a politician.
Quote: "He always felt like a freedom fighter rather than a politician, in the most gentle and sincere way."
Collection: Moments with a Legend