Friday 11 February 2011 marked the 21st Anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from Victor Verster Prison, today known as Drakenstein Prison outside Paarl. This after 28 years of incarceration; 22 years on Robben Island, 4 years at Pollsmoor Prison and the last 18+ months at Victor Verster.
This larger than life 3.2m bronze statue by Sculptor Jean Doyle commemorating the historic moment of Mandela’s walk to freedom, stands at the entrance to Drakenstein Prison.
I watched Nelson Mandela’s release on my TV from Israel where I was living at the time. I had my 12 day old baby on my lap, and I cried with hope and longing for home. And home I was within the year …. Today my son is 21 too, and 1990 will always hold special.
In 1994 Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa’s first Democratic President, and it was in 1998 that I attended a function at the Mount Nelson to hear him speak. After being held in awe throughout his deliverance, I got to shake his hand and linger in conversation for awhile.
I was altered by that day. Recognised the enormity of the moment and how extraordinary the man in front of me was. I didn’t loose the smile or the magic for weeks, actually, everytime I think about it I feel warm and fuzzy inside, and realise how lucky I was to have had the opportunity.
Tata Madiba, you’re the wonderment that we need in South Africa, 21 years ago and still today. May your legacy live forever and inspire many to follow in your brave and heartfelt footsteps … My love to you for how we have all been affected.