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    Posted December 6, 2013 by
    Cedar Grove, New Jersey
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Nelson Mandela: Your memories

    JoyfulGypsy and 14 other iReporters contributed to Open Story: Remembering Nelson Mandela
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    Nelson Mandela Ruined My Shoes!


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Lulis Leal of Cedar Grove, New Jersey, says she and her husband, Mitch Goldstein, who is business manager for the music group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, will always treasure this memory of a shoe that was 'ruined' forever by Nelson Mandela in 1996. She says: 'In our lifetime, we were able to witness the greatness of ultimate forgiveness and peaceful resolution instead of violent response. If we all can think of and act as Mandela, we all would be greater people.'
    - nsaidi, CNN iReport producer

    As the Manager for the multi-Grammy Award winning choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, South Africa's most famous entertainment group, I have had more than my share of incredible experiences traveling with the group. I was fortunate enough to have met Nelson Mandela on three separate occasions.

    The second time I met the "Old Man" was at the Royal Albert Hall in London. President Mandela was visiting England for the first time and he hosted a concert there to honor Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family. Ladysmith Black Mambazo was, naturally, asked to perform.

    The third time I met Nelson Mandela was in Leeds, England in 2001 at an event honoring now former President Mandela. Once again, Ladysmith Black Mambazo was performing and we spent some time backstage with Mandela. I have a wonderful picture of Mandela and Mambazo dancing together.

    However, the most memorable time I met Nelson Mandela was the day he ruined my brand new shoes. It was during the 1996 trip to London, for the concert at Royal Albert Hall. Ladysmith Black Mambazo was asked to appear on one of the morning television shows to talk about the event. When we arrived at the studio we were informed that President Mandela was going to be interviewed prior to us. Cool!

    As the time approached for us to be interviewed, we were moved to the wings of the studio set. From there we were able to watch Mandela during his interview until he was finished and began to leave the set. That is when he saw the group in the wings and started over to us. As he greeted the members of the group, Joseph Shabalala, Ladysmith Black Mambazo's founder and leader, led Nelson Mandela towards me. "This is our manager, Mitch Goldstein," Joseph said to Mandela. Nelson Mandela focused his eyes upon me, put out his hand to greet mine and took a few steps in my direction. It was at this moment that my life would be forever changed. As I moved my left foot towards Nelson Mandela, Nelson Mandela moved his right foot towards me...and his shoe came down on top of mine leaving a scratch that would remain part of my wardrobe for these past 17 years. As his foot slipped off my shoe, Nelson Mandela said to me "Oh, I'm sorry about that" to which I responded "That's all right." We shook hands and soon parted company.

    It wasn't until we were leaving the television studio that I noticed the scuff mark on my shoe. "Wow" I remember saying. I showed the group members. "Hey, look at what Nelson Mandela did to my shoe." The guys laughed at my "damage." "Oh Mitch" said Joseph Shabalala, "that's one bad shoe I bet you will never throw away."

    He was right. My Nelson-Mandela-damaged-shoe remains in my closet to this day. It's one "souvenir" EBay will never get.

    Thank you, Nelson Mandela, for making this world a better place. You will never be forgotten.

    Mitch Goldstein
    Business Manager, Ladysmith Black Mambazo

    Photos by Lulis Leal
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