Next week on Sunday, thousands of South Africans will walk from the Union Buildings in Pretoria in remembrance of former president Nelson Mandela.
Among them will be Struggle stalwarts George Bizos and Sophie de Bruyn, former Bafana Bafana captains Aaron Mokoena and Lucas Radebe, Springbok player Ashwin Willemse, former Banyana Banyana manager Fran Hilton-Smith and music legend Kabelo Mabalane.
The 2017 Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run is in its fourth year, with the theme for this year’s run being “Remembering Madiba”.
The Saturday Star spoke to several personalities about their memories of Mandela.
What is your fondest memory of Nelson Mandela?
George Bizos, Mandela’s attorney and human rights lawyer during the apartheid era:
He was released on February 11, 1990 and I had been seeing him in jail for the past 27 years. The day he was released Mandela stood on a platform on the field in front of all these people, and he requested me to join him. This was very special.
Aaron Mokoena, former Bafana Bafana captain:
When Bafana Bafana won the Nelson Mandela Challenge in 2008 (beating Cameroon 3-2 in Rustenburg), the game was important because of the pressure the team was under to give some positive results leading up to the World Cup. Beating a formidable Cameroon side at home brought a lot of joy to the nation and I was proud to have led this team to victory in a match dedicated to Nelson Mandela.
Lucas Radebe, former Bafana Bafana captain:
When I played for Leeds United, Tata came to visit and it was an amazing experience as the whole city stood still. I got more acknowledged and respected because I was from the same country as the great statesman.
Fran Hilton-Smith, former Banyana Banyana manager
When Banyana Banyana was invited to meet Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in 2006 before leaving for the African Women’s Championship, we were all introduced to him and he wished us well. It was a magical moment for us.
What is the most important lesson you learnt from Mandela?
In the last chapter of my book 65 Years of Friendship I deal with those who say Mandela did not do well for the black people of South Africa. They are wrong. He said long before the Freedom Charter was written that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white. He strongly believed it to the extent that he prevented a civil war in South Africa. We must look to our future and not to the past in relation to the future of our country.
Tata Madiba taught me that with leadership comes great responsibility and that even when you lead it's important to be a team player.
His leadership quality. He was a unifier and a grateful man,
Forgiveness. To have gone through so much in his life and to have forgiven all that happened to him and to this country is a lesson to be learnt. Like he said: "In order for us to move forward we can’t look back."
The Saturday Star