Mosiuoa Lekota - 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.
There were no cameras present, but my deepest moment with this legend occurred in unusual circumstances during my imprisonment on Robben Island, in 1976. For years the names of our leaders had been spoken of in whispers on the mainland of South Africa.
We arrived on Robben Island as young freedom fighters and suddenly found ourselves in the same place where these leaders had been confined for many years and were still serving terms. Suddenly they were only a wall or window away, through which we could peek to see these celebrated and respected icons. The prospect of imprisonment was a foreboding one because it not only carried the fear of the harsh conditions we had heard about, but also the magnet of the eagerness to encounter the leaders of our people.
Upon arrival, we received a welcome note from the leaders, expressing admiration for the role we played and the road we chose in becoming part of the struggle. We were made to feel at home and joined the community of freedom fighters and to share our experiences on the main land as members of the South African Student Organisation (SASO) and the Black People’s Convention (BPC).
We were also invited to ask questions about issues we felt strongly about and that took place through smuggled communication. We (individually) wrote to different leaders asking questions of both personal and collective interest. I addressed a note to Comrade Nelson Mandela asking him to give us a broad perspective of the liberation struggle of this country. In his reply; he started with the wars of dispossession underlining the role the youth of our country had played in the struggle for the defence of the freedom of our people and pointed out that those who died on the battlefields of the Cape and in all the wars we heard about, the Natal, Sekhukhune, Mafikeng, Free State, etc.
Our generation had to understand that we were not the first young people to come around; we had to learn from the experiences of those who’ve gone before us so that we did not repeat the same mistakes they had committed. We had built on their success and learned from them.
Quote: "Our generation had to understand that we were not the first young people to come around."
Collection: Moments with a Legend