Joel Stransky - 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.
I first met Madiba just a few days prior to the 1995 Rugby World Cup. We, as the Springbok team, had been informed that he would be coming to meet us and I, like any young white South African growing up in that era, wondered what this new President and former activist would be like. At the time and as young rugby players preparing for the opening match of South Africa’s first rugby world cup, the encounter seemed far less important than it does now when I reflect back on the 1995 RWC and in fact, on my life as a whole.
We had about finished our training session and I was still on the field doing some kicking practice when Madiba’s helicopter moved in to land. I was promptly and inconveniently forced to cut short my last few kicks but it was all worthwhile. We lined up to welcome and meet our new President and then moved up to the clubhouse for some tea and eats, a few photos and some very inspiring words.
From the moment you first meet him, and I have been fortunate to have met him on many occasions, Nelson Mandela leaves a lasting and never fading impression upon you. His aura then, and in all subsequent meetings, was one of genuine kindness, of forgiveness and of absolute wisdom. You cannot but love and respect the man from the first moment. It was a wonderful day and undoubtedly set us off on the right route towards winning the RWC.
Madiba again came to see us in the change room on the day of the final, to wish us luck and to inspire us with the unbeatable Madiba Magic. Fate and destiny were on our side on the 24th of June 1995 and I have no doubt that this was the gods smiling on the Father of our Nation on that very important day. The picture of Madiba, arms held high in celebration as South Africa rejoiced, and smiling back at the gods like he too had played the game, is one that will live with me forever!
Quote: "I have no doubt that this was the gods smiling on the Father of our Nation on that very important day."
Collection: Moments with a Legend