Cape Town - While the world mourns Nelson Mandela’s passing in grand gesture, possibly the smallest, most humble shrine is in Cape Town.
Before Mandela gave his first historic address to Parliament, for the first time as president, on May 25, he spent the night at Leeuwenhof - then the official residence of Kobus Meiring, the outgoing Administrator of the Cape.
The room in which he slept has since been named the “Madiba Room” - and remains untouched, complete with the original bed linen and furnishings.
Since his death, a small candle has burned constantly in the room, “which is now a shrine to Madiba”, Premier Helen Zille explained.
Visiting the room on Sunday were two women - the only remaining staffers at Leeuwenhof who served Mandela on that day.
“He was very polite,” remembered Anna Friesley. “I served him breakfast. He had juice and porridge.”
Ragel Leukes recalled: “While he was at breakfast, I went up to his room. It smelled of Zambuk, I remember. And I wanted to make his bed, but he had made it already… He was such a nice guy!”
The room’s desk, Zille explained, was possibly where Mandela had worked that night on matters which would impact greatly upon South Africa.
Among his most famous words in Parliament that next day were: “We must construct that people-centred society of freedom in such a manner that it guarantees the political liberties and the human rights of all our citizens.”
* Zambuk is a topical ointment used to provide relief from aches, pains and bruises.