Do you believe in magic??? I do, and I’ll tell you why…
Never, never and never again, will we have one like him… Nelson Mandela is an icon to millions and a legend to many more, yet it is his humility that makes him so loveable.
Having sacrificed so many years for the liberation of our people, our dream was finally realised when he lead the country to its first ever democratic elections. And like a story-book hero, he was at the helm and continued to serve his people.
That “he was born to lead” or that he is a “living legend” falls way short of the magnanimity of this man and his sacrifice. We should remember that despite all that he is has sacrificed, that his family too had to endure hardships…growing up without a father, husband and grandfather, and in later years, they had to share him with the rest of the world.
Besides the actual sacrifice/s, it is also his “Madiba Magic” that touches you, that envelopes you, whether you are the same room or not. Whenever he spoke, whether it is serious or with that witty, twinkle in his eye, you always felt that he spoke to you and to you alone.
That is my experience, and I am sure the experience of many, although, I did have my moment “alone” with him…
It was 1994 and he was only President for a few months. At the time, South Africa was opening diplomatic relations with many new countries and I was fortunate to be part of a media contingent to cover such an event.
My nerves were shot, here was my hero and a man whom we had literally fought for to be free and I was going to be in the same room with him.
I was the only female photo-journalist in the room and had this small, manual fixed-lens SLR Canon camera while everyone else in the room had zoom lenses longer than my arm.
So I did what any determined, curious and enamoured “professional” would do… I elbowed my way to the front and pleaded to be in front because of my fixed lens problem. They obliged and it led not to the best photograph or story, but to the best memory of my life.
The red carpet was laid out, the dignitaries had arrived and then the announcement was made…” THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, MR NELSON MANDELA...”
Phew! I couldn’t breathe! Here I was, from Hanover Park and in Parliament, who had just ten years before, been fighting in those very streets and the surrounds to free this man…and here he was, it was an OMG moment.
At the time, Madiba was still wearing dark lens glasses because of the damage to his eyes over the years…but he looked no less handsome…he was TALL, so much taller than I expected…UPRIGHT, almost regal and so handsome.
He walked into the room and greeted everyone and because I was in the front row, behind the “barrier line” I could see him clearly and I guess he could see me too…
He walked over to me and said: “I see we have a lady amongst all the men” TO ME! He was talking to me and about me…He shook my hand, and never one to “keep my mouth shut” I replied “mmm…I can see there is nothing wrong with your eyesight Mr President.” He was about to respond when the announcement of the programme about to start interrupted any further exchange.
But that was enough. I almost forgot to complete the assignment I was sent on. And then of course I HAD to write a thank you letter, it was short and sweet and this is what it said:
“I NEVER THOUGHT THAT SO SOON AFTER DEMOCRACY, A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC WOULD BE ALLOWED INTO PARLIAMENT WITH A CANON TO SHOOT THE PRESIDENT”
What can I tell you, I addressed it to NELSON MANDELA, put a stamp on it and that was that…or so I thought…
One month later, my postbox, in Hanover Park, received an acknowledgement from the highest office in the land.
It proved to me then, and now, that the Madiba Magic IS real! It will live on forever…
LONG LIVE MADIBA! LONG LIVE!