Lionel J. Maxim - 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.
Nothing could have prepared me for when I met President Mandela for the first time; coming face to face with a respected world icon and the leader of our country. The electrifying aura that so many who met him before me spoke about was real.
As the big silver grey Mercedes with its dark tinted windows pulled up in front of us, we – the small handpicked welcome party – stood in awe and total silence. We watched as the security detail jumped out from the slow-moving convoy of cars, and took up their respective positions around the president’s car. Captain Swart, the head of this elite unit, came over towards the car and I drew his attention by moving off my invisible line, “Excuse, is it okay if I hug Madiba?”
“He is all yours now,” he replied with a smile, as he opened the door of the Mercedes. The large black shiny leather shoes of no particular fancy make, was my first view of a tall assertive figure rising up and out of the car. For a few seconds I greeted him with a bear hug, an emotional lump which formed in my throat prevented me from uttering a single welcoming word I had prepared. My legs felt like jelly, the butterflies in my belly went ape, as my heart raced at a breakneck speed. I knew I was in the presence of greatness; and I realised it was going to be defining moment in the history of my life, my Alma Mata, Cedar Primary with its 400 learners, 30 plus teachers and the community of Bonteheuwel at large.
When the moment arrived for me to deliver my prepared speech in the presence of my hero, I could sense the Madiba magic engulfing my whole being, bringing a calming affect to my scattered nerves. The energy of that moment stayed with me for three days.
Quote: "Is it okay if I hug Madiba?"
Collection: Moments with a Legend