Touched by Madiba

2013-12-07 00:00

IN August 1997, former Durban ICC publicist Frances Park-Ross stopped Madiba in his tracks on the escalator after a photographer from a weekend newspaper was unable to get a picture she was assigned to shoot.

The event was the opening of the ICC and Madiba was in attendance to make the opening official.

“The photographer approached me and said her editor had told her ‘that she would lose her job’ if she did not get a photo of Madiba with former eThekwini Mayor Obed Mlaba and Miss SA 1997 Kerishnie Naicker — all in one photo. She was very stressed. It was a turning point in my life and that moment will stay with me forever,” she said.

She said as she spotted Madiba leaving the building via the escalators in the main foyer (with the mayor and Miss SA), she realised that was the last opportunity for the photographer to get her photo. “I grabbed her hand and jumped onto the escalator with the VIP crew. A bodyguard was ordering us to get off the escalator, but Madiba sensed something was happening behind him, and he turned and told the bodyguard that it was okay.

“I saw that night that Madiba’s strength was in his love and concern for others. When we reached the foot of the escalator, he turned to me and asked how he could help!

“I explained that we needed a photo of the three of them and he turned to the mayor and Miss SA and literally set the photo up himself. Then he took my hand and told me to ‘continue with your good work’. Those words continue to inspire me every day of my life. My life feels fulfilled, because I met Madiba and he touched my hand and my heart,” said Park-Ross.

She said after the shoot she and the photographer stood at the bottom of the escalators in total awe of Madiba. “We were blown away by Madiba’s selflessness and we couldn’t believe he just did that”.

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