Susan de Villiers - 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 1996, the Western Cape staged its first democratic local government elections. The ANC Claremont branch (which became the Gaby Shapiro branch after the death of one of its most indefatigable members) decided to put up a white, middle class candidate in the Rondebosch ward and, by so doing, begin to soften opinion of the ANC.
We were lucky enough to persuade Revel Fox, a well-known architect and highly respected member of the community, to stand. The campaign plan was to make good use of the fact that, when in the Western Cape, President Mandela and his Ministers lived within the boundaries of the ward; our strapline was ‘President Mandela will vote for Revel Fox. Will you?”
We had a lot of fun, including a garden party, at which then Deputy President Thabo Mbeki spoke, a public meeting in the Baxter Theatre, the usual public and house meetings, and a fund-raising evening at which Cyril Ramaphosa briefly became auctioneer and Pieter Dirk Uys (or rather Evita) entertained us.
The ward election was held in the gym of Westerford High School. Our chief rival was the Democratic Alliance, which, in its various guises (Progressive, Progressive Reform, Democratic Party) had long held the area.
The picture shows me introducing President Mandela to our supporters and workers. I remember that I asked him to greet my mother (who was working for the DA) and that, in his friendly, charming way, he ended up greeting every other person in the hall as well. When he threatened to shake hands with everyone in the voters’ queue, Cheryl Carolus led him firmly away!
Ultimately we won only about a fifth of the vote, but I think we made a dent in public opinion.
Quote: "When he threatened to shake hands with everyone in the voters’ queue, Cheryl Carolus led him firmly away!"
Collection: Moments with a Legend