It was an atmosphere of joy and hilarity at the Nelson Mandela Foundation as dozens of former members of his staff joined his widow, Graca Machel, to launch the book I Remember Nelson Mandela.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation’s first official book to be published in the centenary of Madiba’s birth contains stories from 111 people who served him from the time of his release, through his Presidency and during his retirement.
For Mrs Machel, who had proposed the idea of the book of reminiscences four years ago, the event was like a “family” get-together. She thanked the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the editors and especially all the contributors, who provided him with comfort and security and often made him smile.
She laughed with the audience as some of the contributors related their stories that appear in the book.
Renowned author and former Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation Achmat Dangor read one of his stories about a protocol faux pas in Australia caused by Madiba’s delight in meeting the singer Kylie Minogue. A former bodyguard, Conroy Herandien, regaled the audience with a story of how he and his colleagues “killed” President Mandela’s lunch.
Koketso Mdawo, the youngest woman staffer at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, read the contribution by Barbara Masela, who remembered Mandela as a boss.
The first public launch of I Remember Nelson Mandela will be held at Exclusive Books in Hyde Park, Johannesburg, at 6pm on 6 June 2018. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More than one hundred individuals, from household staff to bodyguards and presidential advisors, have offered their memories in I Remember Nelson Mandela. They provide warm, poignant and often humorous insights into what it was like behind the scenes with one of the most revered and beloved political figures the world has seen.