“That is what Nelson Mandela was and actually is – bringing people together despite their differences.” Madiba’s former personal assistant Zelda la Grange.
Albert Constant, Ocean View resident and well-known builder, was passing Masiphumelele several years ago when he saw a large crowd gathered at the entrance. Curious to know what was going on he parked his bakkie and “after walking quite a distance” found himself in the depths of an excited group of people welcoming then President, Nelson Mandela, to Masi.
“Madiba was in the third car of the shiny cavalcade. His car stopped 10 metres away from where I was standing. I shouted ‘Madiba, Madiba’ and he looked me in the eye and walked over and shook my hand. I was so emotional that I even dropped a tear! I got back to my bakkie and drove with one hand – the hand that Madiba had not touched – to the school where my wife Dorothy was assisting with the winter programme. I rushed in and told her that she must shake my hand. Nonplussed she did,wondering what had got into me. I did not use my right hand for the next three days!”
And that is not the end of Albert’s story. Last Friday when the news of Madiba’s passing had broken, Albert was standing in a queue at the autobank in the Mall. Behind him was a white woman who overheard him telling his story. “Did you shake Madiba’s hand?” she asked incredulously. “Please shake mine!” she said.
And so it was and is. Madiba brought South Africans of all shades together, despite our differences. May his legacy live on.
Rest in peace, Madiba.