The day I met Mandela: Sibanengi Dube
By Sibanengi Dube
In 2003, I had the fortune of meeting the late icon Nelson Mandela at Wits University in Johannesburg. I was a senior reporter with Media24. We were seated in the front row as members of the media to get a clear view of the all-time popular former President.
I could not believe my eyes when he strolled in to deliver a lecture. I said to myself, this is the man I read about in my studies of Southern African history. His 1960s acts of bravery as he led masses into civil disobedience against the almighty Apartheid system played back in mind.
The Rivonia trial and the spectacular statements he uttered from the dock came back to my mind. I am however disappointed that I never managed to have a face to face interview about him even though I wrote extensively about him.
I remember doing a story on him for the Sunday Times’ Metro section. The man lived a life of humility and spent most of his time turning down accolades, praises and refusing to take credits.
Apparently the then mayor of Ekurhuleni Duma Nkosi had offered the freedom of the City to Madiba. Guess what Madiba did. He politely turned the honours down.
He urged Duma to honour other liberation heroes saying he was not the only one who fought for the liberation of South Africa.
Imagine! This is different from the other breed of African politicians we are seeing today. They mouth their heroic contributions to the liberation struggle at every turn, event, funeral, wedding and church services.