February 11, 1990. Today marks the 20th anniversary of Dr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela's release from prison after 27 years. How a man can come out of prison after such a long time and not harbour any ill feelings or bitterness towards his oppressors is unfathomable.
I remember this day vividly. It was a Sunday and we came home from church and visited with my parents some of their friends who had invited us for lunch. I was 12 back then. I remember playing outside and I didn't quite understand why there was such a buzz around the township. The excitement was palpable and was manifested by many people driving around and blaring their hooters. Little did I know that this would be the beginning of the end for the Apartheid regime.
I admire this picture very much. On the day that Dr. Mandela was released from prison he chose to come out dressed in a suit. He could've chosen his prison clothes, a track suit or some other non-descript outfit, instead he chose this dark grey single breast suit, crisp white shirt, navy blue tie and white pocket square. This clearly shows a man of purpose, conviction, integrity and confidence.
Style and presentation seem to have been a mark for Dr. Mandela. Take a look at this picture taken in 1958.
Double breasted peak lapel suit, a white pocket square and his ever present smile. This was during the first treason trial. How he manages to laugh like that really diverts one's attention from the fact that he and other comrades were enduring a lot of persecution from the government.
In SA we have what you call 'Madiba Magic' meaning Mandela has the winning touch. It's no wonder then, that the Yanks are always winning the World Series.
A man of many causes but the most important being children. Their well-being, education and innocence.
Ever the ladies man. However he is also known to reprimand and call to order anyone with errant behaviour. Case in point, Naomi Campbell. Madiba even banned her from making a scheduled apprence at one of his benefit concerts in London because of her violent tendencies.
Apart from all the charitable causes he has given to, as well as his own Nelson Mandela Foundation, philanthropic and political causes, the one other thing Madiba will be known for is the Madiba shirt. A shirt which is buttoned from collar to bottom and is always left untucked. That's his signature look and it works every time.
Extremely affable and amiable, everyone is made to feel like a friend upon meeting Madiba.
Among his many awards, which number up to 250, the most notable has to be his 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. A prisoner. A champion of the people. A testament to the resilience of the human spirit. A peace maker. A reconciler. A president. This man deserves all our well wishes on this historical day.
(all pictures courtesy of The Mail and Guardian online)
Since November 2009, after a United Nations General Assembly announcement, July 18, which is Dr. Mandela's birthday is now known as 'Mandela Day'. To mark and celebrate all the contributions he has made to humanity. So join us on July 18, 2010, I know the children of South Africa will be celebrating.
PG: Man to man, generation to generation.