Nelson Mandela Foundation

On behalf of our Board of Trustees and staff, the Nelson Mandela Foundation mourns the passing of Maya Angelou.

Our Founder, Mr Nelson Mandela, first met Ms Angelou while he was on his trip in Africa in 1962, to garner support for the armed struggle and to undergo military training.

He met her in February 1962 in Cairo, Egypt, when she was married to PAC activist Vusumzi Make.

He later recalled: “I spent a lot of time with her in Cairo.”

The next time they were in contact was more than 30 years later, after Mr Mandela was released from prison and he was in Washington DC for the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in January 1993.

He told Richard Stengel, his collaborator on his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, that he telephoned her in her hotel after she had “delivered a very powerful poem”.

We at the Nelson Mandela Foundation were deeply moved by the poem His Day is Done, which Ms Angelou wrote on Madiba’s passing on 5 December last year.

Our archives reveal that today in 1986 Mr Mandela watched, in prison, the film version of her work I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

May she rest in peace.

Hamba kahle