In honour of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison on this day in 1990, his Foundation shared some of the smaller personal details of the historical occasion, including the exercise bike and body board he packed up with him.
“His belongings – mainly books and papers – were packed up in twenty-two cardboard boxes and transported in a convoy of hastily borrowed sedan cars,” said the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s spokesperson, Lunga Nene, in a statement.
“Included amongst them was a body board, mistakenly noted as a ‘surfboard’ he could use when using the swimming pool next to the house, and an exercise bicycle for this fitness fanatic.”
Nene detailed how although also a Sunday, Mandela’s release 28 years ago was certainly not quiet.
“Hundreds of cheering people witnessed the occasion and scores more lined his route into Cape Town. South Africa would never be the same again,” he said.
“Nelson Mandela was back amongst us.”
Once in Cape Town, Nelson Mandela delivered his first speech in almost three decades at the Grand Parade.
Its message centered on “servant leadership, peace and reconciliation” – principles that would be the “hallmark of the remaining years of his life”.
Nene detailed that Mandela enjoyed freedom for “just twenty-two years, nine months and 24 days” before he passed away at his home in Johannesburg on 5 December 2013.This Sunday, current ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to speak at the Grand Parade as part of the party’s Mandela Centenary Rally.Nene noted that the Foundation had discovered certain errors of fact in Mandela’s own autobiography Long Walk to Freedom.This included that “in the chaos of his release he was not taken to the home of his lawyer Dullah Omar, but to the home of activist Saleem Mowzer”. This detail was later corrected.”While we commemorate 2018 as the centenary of the birth of this great South African on 18 July 1918, he has left us with rich layers of milestones in his remarkable life,” said Nene.