Madiba 20

'I wanted to see him with my own eyes'

2010-02-11 14:44

Special Report

Obama calls Mandela
Obama calls Mandela

US President Barack Obama has called former president Nelson Mandela to mark the 20th anniversary of his release from prison.

Drakenstein – On the day President Jacob Zuma is to deliver his second State on the Nation address, South Africa also marks the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's from prison.

Mandela was freed on February 11, 1990, after spending 27 years behind bars.

This was the first time the world got a glimpse of the icon who had sacrificed his freedom for his people.

Speaking at an ANC rally to mark the 20th anniversary of Mandela’s release, Kupa Msolo told News24 that he was a student at the University of the Western Cape at the time.

A great icon

He was studying for a test on the day of Mandela’s release. After that, he went straight to the Grand Parade in Cape Town as he "did not want to miss such a great day”, he recalls.

“Mandela to me is a father, a great icon, and a leader who leads by example."

Councillor Sharon Davids of the Drakenstein Municipality, who was a also a student at the time, said Mandela’s release brought freedom to a lot of people in the country.

“Apart from the freedom, it brought back a lot of positive things to us as a people,” she said. “At the time, we were not acknowledged as a people, only after his release were we accepted as people of South Africa.”

She likened Mandela to the biblical figure Moses.

“Like Moses, he sacrificed himself to bring freedom to the people.”

No change

Khaya Moko was 27-years-old at the time.

“I was waiting at Victor Verster Prison from the early hours of the morning,” he recalled. “I’d only seen him in photos and I really wanted to see him with my own eyes.”

However, Moko said he had not seen change in the last 20 years.

“There has been no change, especially here in Paarl. It’s just as it was during the days of oppression”, he said.

Eric Dampies, who describes himself as a retired veteran who was part of the struggle, shared how much Mandela meant to him.

“To me, he is a lot of things,” he said. “He is an icon, a nation builder, a world builder and a patriot. He is everything to me."

Read more on:    nelson mandela

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