23 years ago today, Nelson Mandela was officially released from prison and walked his way to freedom..
I was 9 years old and it was a sunny afternoon in Jagersrust where we used to live in the Drakensberg. I remember watching a program on TV when my folks walked into the lounge and my dad quickly flipped the channel on our old 51cm National TV, you know the ones with the wooden finish and push buttons to change the channel along with a manual volume slider. Handheld remote controls did not exist in those days, and like many kids of our generation… we were the remote control Naturally I wasn’t happy that The Ballie just waltzed in and flicked the channel without any concern for what I was watching. After protesting he said to me that Nelson Mandela was being released from prison, and naturally in my ignorance, I questioned who the hell was Nelson Mandela?
Well little did I know how big a role this man that I was now watching on TV would play in the personal capacity of my life, and how important this significant moment would be… so much that at the ripe age of 32, 23 years later I still remember it so clearly.
In later years I would find myself spending countless hours studying the man, searching for every bit of material I could find on him, every book, old articles, documentaries, everything… to the extent that he has helped form the very foundation of my being and the direction in everything that I do… a father figure, a mentor…. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve asked myself, What Would Madiba Do?
Unfortunately unlike many, I’ve not had the opportunity to shake hands with the man that has played such an important role in my life, however I did have the pleasure of standing in the crowd in Hyde Park when he gave his speech at his 90th Birthday Concert.
So with that I’d like to wish Nelson Mandela a very happy getting released day!
ndikunqwenelela okuhle kodwa Madiba