Mandela’s Jailer Praises the Anti-Apartheid Icon

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Years later, when Mandela was president, he took special care to single out Brand for recognition while Brand was a lowly civil servant while South Africa’s new constitution was being drafted. Mandela flew in by helicopter and entered the room where members of parliament were debating the new constitution, said Brand.

Mandela went around the room shaking hands with parliamentarians but when he saw Brand, who was distributing documents, Mandela lifted his arms and warmly greeted him.

“He immediately made a big announcement to everyone: ‘You know who is this person? This person was my warden, this person was my friend.’” Brand said he felt very humble and proud at that moment. After that when the parliamentarians went out for a group photo, Mandela insisted that Brand be in the photo. “He said ‘No, no. You must stand next to me, we belong together.’”

Brand once again works on Robben Island which is no longer a prison but a bustling tourist attraction. He and other former guards and prisoners tell visitors about the new South Africa’s racial reconciliation.

Brand said he shared a joke with Mandela about his final resting place.

“I say to Mandela that we must bury you on Robben Island. Then he just laughed. He said ‘Why? For tourist attraction?’ He said ‘You should have made money. But I think I must go to Qunu.’ That was him making a joke.”

(Photo: AP)

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