- Posted December 7, 2013 by
Cape Town, South Africa
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Nelson Mandela: Your memories
taxi ride to freedom
A few days before we heard the stunning news from Parliament that the ANC would be unbanned, all political prisoners freed and all racist laws scrapped.
I was a sub-editor on The Cape Argus and, after watching spellbound the live TV of the "long walk to freedom" , I headed for the office in town seven miles away to help bring out the historic edition.
As I drove along minibus taxis, their hooters blaring, roared past me loaded to the roof with excited, chanting supporters rushing to be at the City Hall for Madiba's first speech as a free man.
Passengers were almost hanging out the windows while they thumped the sides in keeping with the beat of the freedom songs.
A few miles out of town I encountered one of these minibuses broken down and its 20 passengers or more trying to wave down cars or any vehicle that could give them a lift. Other overloaded minibuses would not, could not stop.
I was driving my 20-year-old Volkswagen Kombi camper, with only two sets of seats but I had to help. I stopped intending to pick up a few passengers.
Not a hope, the whole lot piled in, squeezing into every cubic inch, one on top of each other, my cries of alarm unheeded. It was like those rag stunts to break a world record for the number of students that could be squeezed into a VW Beetle.
With this solid mass of chanting, foot-stamping humanity, the Kombi's springs crushed down and the tyres virtually on the wheel rims, I crept into town, expecting any moment to be brought to a halt by the floor crashing through the chassis.
But we got to the city centre through the traffic jam that had already built up, and with much goodbyes and blessings we took our leave of each other.
As I continued to the office I reflected that though I could not claim equality with my student daughter who had been jailed for ten days for an anti-apartheid demo, I at least had done a little something in the spirit of South Africa's day of days.
FOOTNOTE: The jailed University of Cape Town students had the distinction they still treasure – they were in Pollsmoor prison with Madiba, though he was in the maximum security wing. They were released when their case was thrown out: sadly Mr Mandela stayed some years more before being moved to Paarl.