Madiba tribute: Albie Sachs

By Kirstin Buick
06 December 2013

Former activist and Constitutional Court judge Albie Sachs pays tribute to Nelson Mandela.

ACTIVIST, FORMER CONSTITUTIONAL COURT JUDGE

When I was a student at the University of Cape Town in the ’50s I used to come to Johannesburg and visit the offices of Mandela and Tambo. Although they were so busy sometimes Oliver Tambo or Nelson Mandela would ask, “How’s the struggle in Cape Town?” And I had 45 seconds to describe it. There was an element of grace and courtesy and acceptance from these extremely busy professionals. I was just a student but I felt welcomed.
'In strode this calm, serene, majestic person with that huge Mandela smile.'

Afterwards I met Madiba – it would have been about 1961, 1962 – deep in the underground [movement]. It was very, very dangerous. In circumstances where we were all tense and grey with anxiety – and looking all the time over our shoulders, at the windows, at the doors – in strode this calm, serene, majestic person with that huge Mandela smile. It wasn’t something that came only with the presidency – it’s just part of his nature – and with it went that total conviction, and again the embrace, the warmth and the strength.

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