My Mandela memories

Wherever he went, Madiba left an impression. Here is a selection of our readers' special memories of meeting the former statesman.

Justin Pillay Kimberly, Northern Cape "We met Nelson Mandela in 1993 when he visited Chatsworth, Durban in KZN to address a rally. He was tall and yet gentle and approachable. He spoke to us and told us to work hard in school - this was inspiring for us. It is indeed one of the most memorable moments in our lives and we will cherish the moments we spent with him." (Photo supplied by Justin Pillay)
Sithembiso Soyaya Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape "While Mandela was president we would see his military helicopter approaching and all of us kids in the village [of Qunu] would race to his home, so that by the time his helicopter landed we were there. Once he called me over to chat about my attire. I was wearing idelela [dungarees] as it was known. I felt so special." A child is pictured in Qunu in 2013. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)
Simon Williams Auckland, New Zealand "I had the privilege of meeting Madiba in 1994 just before the elections, when he visited Macassar near Somerset West. I was part of the band that played at the occasion. I was totally overawed by his presence. We shook hands - I could not utter a word! What a humble man!" Mandela in Macassar, outside Cape Town in 1994. (Gallo)
Imraan Mohamed Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal "I met president Mandela at the Grey Street Mosque in Durban where he was invited by local Muslims. Amidst the crowd and heavy security, I managed to give him a handshake and a pat on the back and he replied by asking me how I am. I clearly remember this day although it was about 10 years ago." Mandela is welcomed by Muslim leaders Durban's Grey Street Mosque on December 13 2001. (Rajesh Jantilal, AFP)
Angela Meadon Johannesburg, Gauteng "I met Nelson Mandela at Desmond Tutu's 75th birthday gala. I went to the event with my ex's mom. She is a quadriplegic and we were seated on the isle. When Madiba saw her, he stopped his entire entourage and took the time to thank her for coming. It showed me that we must not overlook people who are physically weaker than we are.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mandela during Tutu's 75th birthday party in Sandton City on October 8 2006. (Mohau Mofokeng, Gallo)
Shelley Loe Ekurhuleni, Gauteng "As a backbencher in the last term, I was at a joint sitting attended by Madiba. He walked, tightly surrounded by minders, down the centre of the packed National Assembly. I blew him a kiss as he passed. He looked straight at me and smiled into my eyes with such kindness. I carry that picture in my heart.” Mandela, front, receives a standing ovation on his last day as president, in Parliament on March 26 1999. (Obed Zilwa, AP)
Guy Thompson Edmonton, Canada "This happened to an American friend: She was having a drink at the hotel next to the Great Zimbabwe ruins in 1998, and a motorcade pulled in and parked. Several people got out, including Madiba, who walked over, shook her hand and said, 'Hello, I'm Nelson Mandela.' She was speechless and thrilled.” Mandela walks hand in hand with Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe after his arrival in Harare on December 13 1998. (Rob Cooper, AP)
Chris Loker Cape Town, Western Cape "When I met Madiba in 1990, he apologised to me for not replying to a fax I had sent him while in prison. I had invited him to speak at a conference at the time. On the day we met he also commended my optimism, and as his massive hands enfolded mine I came face to face with an inflection point for the trajectory of my life. Thank you." Mandela stands behind the bars of his former cell on Robben Island on March 27 1998. (Stephen Jaffe, AFP)
Wendy Watson Wakkerstroom, Mpumalanga "I met Mandela in 1996 when asking for an extension of the Truth [and Reconciliation] Commission. He signed a draft report for me and apologised for his handwriting, saying 'I am just a country boy'. We had tea with Madiba and Archbishop [Desmond] Tutu at the president's house in Pretoria. The two of them are wonderful together". Tutu hands over the TRC report to Mandela on October 29 1998. (Peter Andrews, Reuters)
Jordan Hashoongo Windhoek, Namibia "I met the magical Madiba at State House in Windhoek in 1994, just before he became president. The most memorable part of our short encounter was his fatherly smile with a slight bow of his head and a warm handshake.” Mandela is greated by Namibian President Sam Nujoma at the Windhoek airport on October 28 1998. (Reuters)
Bruce Retief Cape Town, Western Cape "My dad was pastor of St James Church in Cape Town when the 1993 massacre took place there. The next day our phone rang and I answered; it was Madiba. He said how sorry he was about what had happened. I heard the genuine compassion in his voice, and saw how he really cared for all people. It impacts me to this day." An investigator walks past covered victims of the Saint James Church massacre on July 25 1993. (Guy Tillim, AFP)
Alide van Halsema Amsterdam, Netherlands "I met Nelson Mandela on his 74th birthday, on a flight from Amsterdam to Cairo. I was the purser [head flight attendant] on that flight. I sat down next to him to give him some peace; all the passengers wanted pictures with him. He was so interested in my life, I felt embarrassed. That was the best experience I had in my career". Mandela is helped from his place by aides shortly after he landed in Burundi airport on April 30 2003. (Antony Njuguna, Reuters)
Dr David Gotlieb Cape Town, Western Cape "I was privileged to meet Mandela when he came to Mediclinic Constantiaberg. He sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to the kids in the children's ward. It felt so uplifting to meet him. I felt I had achieved a lifelong goal to have this privilege. He also signed a copy of his biography for me." Mandela visits a creche in Cape Town on December 3 2001. (Anna Zieminski, AFP)
Sicelo Fayo Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape "The exact date or day of week is a little fuzzy now, but the 'great encounter' was in the men's bathroom in a village in Lusikisiki in 1991. It was both daunting and exciting. He was not supposed to go in there … or was I not? I can't remember. Safe to say it earned me a 'rebuke' for being 'unkind'." Mandela visits a pharmacy in a rural clinic of Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape in 2003. (Gallo)
Zaheer Fakir Pretoria, Gauteng "I met Madiba on his visit to Germany in 1999. As a diplomat at the SA embassy I was introduced to him. Before I could say anything, he grabbed hold of my hand and shoulder and said: 'It's an honour to meet you. I can see you will do great things.' I thought of this as I co-chaired the board of the UN Green Climate Fund." Mandela dances with his wife Graca Machel during their visit to Germany on January 28 1999. (Winfried Rothermel, AP)
Brenda Timmer Durban, KwaZulu-Natal "I was ordained as a methodist minister at our conference in Port Elizabeth. Madiba arrived to share that special day with us. In Tata we have a wonderful example of what the gospel of Jesus Christ means. Not an institution, exclusion or status, but love." Mandela addresses the crowd in Port Elizabeth on April 1 1990. (Juda Ngwenya, Reuters)
Marius Redelinghuys Centurion, Tshwane "I met Tata Madiba on December 13 2008 in Llandudno, Cape Town as a 2009 Mandela Rhodes Scholar. It was an immensely humbling encounter. Tata enthusiastically wanted to know about me and my experiences, and was eager to hear from me as a young South African. It made me see the value of diversity more.” (Photo supplied by Marius Redelinghuys)
Ursula Arends Cape Town, Western Cape "In 2008 my Grade 12 daughter Marché wrote to Madiba, telling him why he is her source of inspiration and of her life wish to meet with him. She was actually invited to his Bishop's Court home on 19 March 2008 and I went along. Madiba created my most profound life memory. I will cherish it forever." (Photo supplied by Ursula Arends)