happy birthday madiba!

today is the birthday of one of the world’s true gentlemen. true to his convictions, tolerant of others, and respectful – always. what an example he has set!

yep, nelson mandela is 90 today. i am so very very happy for him, that he has had so many years post-prison to spend with his family and loved ones. and that he found love again. i only hope he turns at least 100 – so that his post-prison years outnumber his in-prison years.

i remember so clearly the weekend he was released… i was on a school camp at “froggy pond” in simon’s town, and on the saturday evening (10 feb 1990) i got a call on the call box from my mom. yep – the height of embarassment in many circles – mom calling you at camp!

when i told my friends what i had been told – that mandela would be released the next day – i was not believed. not surprising really, considering the ‘hate’ that had been spread about this ‘evil’ man – no-one had seen a picture of him since the 60s – but considering in hindsight what was happening that month, it was not surprising.

anyway, next morning we were collected much earlier that initially planned, and my folks took us to the grand parade in the centre of cape town – he was to address us capetonians from the balcony of the city hall.

i’m sure that the grand parade has never in its history before or since, had so many people on it, all hopefully watching the city hall. it was a fantastic mood – so many south africans of all colours awaiting their hero -you wouldn’t be there if you didn’t admire him- and wanting to be a part of history. youngsters climbing up the sides of buildings, the throngs pushing forward to get ever closer, the anticipation growing, but everyone remarkably patient. the odd scuffle, but nothing to worry about.

just plain unadulterated anticipation & excitement to see this remarkable man live.

i remember which palm tree i was standing next to, i remember the clear blue sky, above all i remember the electric happiness and excitement.

in the end, we left before he arrived – we had stood there for several hours – and we watched his release on the TV. convenient, but not the same.

and that was but the beginning of a very exciting journey in our history. i’m glad to have been even a small part of it.

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