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.
As a journalist with the public broadcaster during Nelson Mandela’s presidency, covering stories with the man himself were my meat and drink, as they were to any political reporter from 1994 to 1999. It is only now, looking back on those years, that I realise I was witness to a golden age in South Africa politics – a period in which leaders led, news seemed honourable and exciting, and history was in the making.
I first saw this picture in 2011, many years after it had been taken and I struggled to remember the event, but the drum majorettes in the background (and my dress) recalled a summer’s day in Mthatha =. And probably a noisy band, from the way I seem to be bellowing into his ear.
President Mandela, as he often did, had summonsed journalists and business people to the former Transkei. For newshounds, such events didn’t make great copy, but it was a chance to quiz the President on other issues.
Crowds would gather on a field, often in a remote village, anticipation hanging thick in the air. The presidential chopper would offload a beaming Mandela and several hesitant-looking captains of industry, who had just learned that they were to finance a new classroom, clinic, or crèche. Who could refuse?
On the occasion this photograph was taken, it was the turn of the Independent Newspapers Group. Former executive Shaun Johnson recalls the day with amusement: “a bizarre, wonderful experience ... Madiba had got it into his head that rugby development should be supported in the Transkei. ” And who better to finance it than the Independent Group, which, under former Irish rugby player Tony O’Reilly, had bought into South Africa in 1994.
Having covered numerous similar occasions, I doubt that what I was asking President Mandela on that day had anything to do with rugby!
answer is short and sweet – Do it the Mandela Way!