This photograph was taken while I was Mayor of Cape Town. We had gathered at Cape Town Station to welcome Mr Mandela who was arriving on the Blue Train with a number of celebrities. To be honest, I don’t have strong memories of this event; there were other occasions that stand out much more clearly in my mind.
One such occasion was when we bestowed the Freedom of Cape Town on Mr Mandela in the City Hall. When leaving the City Hall, seemingly on a whim, he deviated from the carefully planned route and went into a shopping mall across the road. He went straight up the escalator; the bodyguards seemed quite uncertain what to do. He had decided to go and greet all the shop owners and managers, to thank them for the employment they were providing for the people.
I was later appointed High Commissioner to Tanzania, which Mr Mandela often visited due to his involvement in the Burundi peace process. “What are you doing here, Madam Mayor? Should you not be in Cape Town?”
The relationship that he has with children marks him as a special human being. In Arusha, once, we were waiting for him to arrive, when the airport manager, who was from Britain, asked if it would be possible for his daughter to meet Madiba. I told him to station his daughter in a particular position, and I would ask Mr Mandela to greet her. Of course, when I mentioned it to Madiba he was only too happy to oblige. But as he approached the young girl, she froze. She was carrying a little book in her hand, that she wanted him to autograph, but she could only stand deads still in total awe and shock. Mr Mandela noticed her unease. He asked her where she came from, and she whispered, from England. “I see,” said Madiba. “You must please send my regards to the Queen.”
To me, what stands out about Madiba is that he is genuine. You can see there is no act in our Madiba. The fact that children love him, and are drawn to him, speaks a thousand words. Children are very perceptive. A child is very perceptive. He is so lovable and so kind.