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    Posted December 8, 2013 by
    Cape Town, South Africa
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Nelson Mandela: Your memories

    Nobantu and 14 other iReporters contributed to Open Story: Remembering Nelson Mandela

    Mandela's First Night of Freedom - with Archbishop Tutu

    At the time of Mandela's release I was Director of the Anglican Board of Social Responsibility. In that capacity I reported to Archbishop Tutu and because of the turbulent times (1980s) I met with the Arch on a weekly basis to discuss critical developments in the black townships around Cape Town. (I had also been a member of the executive of the United Democratic Front, a front of many organisations formed to resist Apartheid, until it's banning; so I had by the time Tutu was enthroned been part of an extensive network of youth, women's and civic organisations)

    The highlight of that ministry was to be part of a small group of people to welcome Mandela to the Arch's residence, Bishopscourt on the night of his release from prison,
    The thing that I most remember about Mandela that evening was his sheer graciousness.

    About 20 of us, including Kathy my wife, who also played a significant role in the townships, were seated in the Arch's small private lounge when Mandela was ushered in. After he shook hands with all of us, Kathy took a tray of soft drinks around to those gathered there. Before she got to Mandela, he stood up and took the tray from her hands and offered her a drink. He then commanded her to sit down and he proceeded to take the tray around.

    The following morning I took the attached photo at Bishopscourt.

    Mandela exuded authority coupled with graciousness - a rare combination.
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