The day before my 15th birthday in 1995 when Nelson Mandela spoke at my school, I did not fully understand the enormity of the man, although I was in awe of him and thought he was a giant with big hands when they shook mine. I remember the media fussing about an eye operation that he just had, and may not show up. He showed up, and did not fuss. I remember him saying that he wishes he could pick us all up and carry each one of us in his shirt pocket to take us everywhere with him, protecting us. As a 33 year old reflecting back, I now understand the impact of those words… and even more in awe. He was indeed a giant.
This picture appeared on the front page of The Sowetan newspaper on 20th January 1995, my special birthday gift. You keep giving Madiba, happy birthday!