Yesterday marked 20 years since our main man Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison on 11th February 1990 after spending 27 years in prison… yip, 20 years ago already… its been that long… suddenly I feel rather old…
I remember that day in 1990 so vividly its frightening, I remember we were still living in the berg in our little village called Jagersrust which is about 25km's into the berg from Bergville. I was 10 years old and parking on the couch watching TV when both my Ballie and my ma came running into the lounge and changed the channel to TV1 without consulting me first… well as you guessed, I threw my toys, to which my ballie replied, "no we must put the news on because Nelson Mandela was being released". As you can imagine my response as would have been any white 10 year old leitjie's response "Well who the hell is Nelson Mandela?". I remember having to wait watching the TV for ages waiting for him to make his appearance until finally we watched Madiba make is walk to freedom. Little did I know that that man that I was watching there on our old 51cm National Panasonic TV without remote control capabilities, that I knew absolutely nothing about at the time, would later on in life become such a great influence and mentor in the way that I view the world and people in general.
Throughout the years Nelson Mandela has been such an interest to me, I have seen every movie ever made about him, the struggle and his time in prison. I have read countless articles about him spent endless hours watching anything I could find about him on the net and YouTube. A little while back I finally took the time to endure reading "Long Walk to Freedom" which believe me is a ridiculously long read, however I was glued to every page never wanting it to end, I was actually quite pissed off when the book came to an end, because I just wanted to know more. I think through all of this I have such a deep respect for him to the extent that I try to live my life and treat people in a manner that he did. I would seriously recommend that you take the time to read the book because once you are done you feel a sense of connection with him and experience the true sense of what he devoted his life to achieving. It will change your mindset on so many aspects about what you previously thought were wrong, and through common sense you will realise just how much of our upbringing was a mass of apartheid propaganda.
One of my greatest wishes would be to meet the man that I admire so much, unfortunately the closest I've ever been in his presence, was listening to him make his speech at his 90th Birthday Concert in Hyde Park almost two years ago. Sadly I think my dream will never come true due to him becoming quite frail and retreating from the public eye, but I still hope that by some stroke of luck I may still get to meet him somehow. I feel bad whenever I meet someone who has met him because I seem to instantly have 50 questions about what it was like to meet him, wanting to know each and every fine detail.
People have their opinions and they are quite entitled to there opinions, such as, he was labelled as a terrorist or its been 20 years and look at South Africa now, from an economic and political stand point, its an absolute mess, to which, you're probably quite right, I do believe that if Madiba's successors had even a fraction of his qualities, SA would be in quite a different situation now, but hopefully one day someone will come along searching for the same ideals as Madiba, I guess we'll just have to hope and wait. However you may want to think of what sort of state SA would have been in now if Mandela was never released, if apartheid was still in full force… well lets just say that you think its tough getting around the world on an SA passport now? Sanctions on SA would have sealed us off completely from the world, or we would be or already have been at war with the world, or civil war would have surely broken out be now with dire consequences.
However all in all, I would personally just like to wish Nelson Mandela a very happy getting released day!
All the best Madiba! You are the best!
Check the video below of his first press conference the day after he was released.