In 1990, I was sat in the Nelson Mandela Bar of Keele University, when I caught sight of Nelson Mandela slowly emerging from his 27 year imprisonment on the T.V set. He was not the man we had imagined… This was who we were expecting:
So the small framed frail old man who emerged was far from image or icon which we were preparing for.
To give some background, the release of Nelson Mandela was a monumental day for me. I had been an activist with both the ANC and SWAPO for all my adult life. this was my civil rights struggle. Along with support for CND, these were my button-hole projects. So to finally witness his release was an immense day in my Thirty-one years of existence. Suddenly, it seemed that all things were possible. The Cold War had ended, and surely apartheid was now about to come crashing down to. So to say this, thin frail Old man came as a bit of a let-down is an understatement. We were expecting a charismatic dynamic man to lead the struggle… but who is this?
Of course, this reading of Mandela was totally wrong! He was much more than a charismatic leader, He was a true leader… In that his vision was not one of over throwing a detestable system, but one of integration, one of unity and a determined effort of unifying the disparate factions.
So, on the 100th anniversary of his birth, I would like to say that He was a true hero and I am truly grateful to have been a part of movement that saw him finally rise to his destiny.
With Gandhi, Mandela will be remembered forever as an inspiration to us all.
Happy Century President.
God Bless You