‘I miss my friend’

2014-11-30 06:00

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The memories never fade, especially when it comes nearer to the date of his passing. Our thoughts are more and more directed towards him as we reach December 5.

What I do miss very much is the way he related to me – not just to me, but the way he related to everybody. He made one immediately comfortable and made one feel that you are very special when you see him and speak to him. That’s how he related to just about everybody who met him.

I first met him in 1946 when he was a student at university and I was at school, in my matric year.

To go back through all those years is very difficult; there’s so much to talk about, not only the personal connection but the three major court cases in which I was accused with him.

One thing I learned from him is the need to relate to anybody one meets as an equal.

One morning he invited us for breakfast and he was on the phone. And he ended off by saying: ‘Okay Elizabeth, goodbye Elizabeth.’

And then he put the phone down and I asked him: ‘Who is this Elizabeth you’re talking to?’

So he says: ‘The Queen.’

So I said: ‘But how can you call her Elizabeth?’

His response was: ‘But she calls me Nelson, so I call her Elizabeth.’

So what I am saying is that he related to everybody as equals: whether you were a peasant or an aristocrat or a monarch. To him they were all equal.

He gave equal attention to everybody.

On December 5, we as the Kathrada Foundation are planning to lay some wreaths at his statue at the Union Buildings. I am also going to be part of the arrangements that are being made at the Nelson Mandela Foundation. There’s also the Mandela Walk that I will be part of.

I miss him.

Especially when the dates come nearer – the date of his birthday, the date of his passing, and the date of our sentencing to imprisonment. My thoughts go back to him.”

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