July 15, 2011

SOUTH AFRICA: Top chefs to cook for senior citizens in Madiba’s honour

MIDRAND, Gauteng / The New Age / Western Cape / July 15, 2011

Cape Town to honour seniors on International Nelson Mandela Day

Rusana Philander

What an experience it certainly was to visit the place that Nelson Mandela called home for 18 months before he was released from his life prison term.

Known as the Victor Verster Prison at the time of Mandela’s release in 1990, the small prison in Paarl has since been renamed the Drakenstein Correctional Centre. A magnificent statue of Mandela, which depicts his walk to freedom, greets visitors. The prison house in which he was incarcerated is now called Mandela House. Entering it immediately overwhelmed me with the spirit of the man; his unselfish and humble manner.

Image by South Africa The Good News via Flickr

The media visit, organised by Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU), was to announce the city’s plans for the International Nelson Mandela Day.

Calvyn Gilfellan, CTRU CEO, could not help but marvel at the historical significance of the house that overlooks the Simonsberg mountains.

The mountains also brought a lot of inspiration to Mandela, as he often says himself about his time spent here.

“In contributing towards International Nelson Mandela Day, CTRU, the Department of Correctional Services and the Cape Winelands have called upon celebrity chefs like Ruben Riffel and Jenny Morris to cook for 67 senior citizens, 67 farm workers and 67 primary school children. The meals will be cooked and served at the prison’s restaurant on Monday to these marginalised people,” said Gilfellan.

“Nelson Mandela always says he does not want any presents and this is our way of giving back,” he added.

After the press conference, a tour of the place followed – a really emotional trip. Manfred Jacobs, the spokesperson for the prison, said about the plans for Monday: “This is surely what Madiba would have wanted. He loves children; he never saw his children growing up.”

Mandela was first brought to the prison on December 9, 1988. Only male Afrikaner warders were allowed to work with him, but he got under their skins and never talked to them about politics.

“Some of them even taught him how to swim in the swimming pool on the property. And at this specific swimming pool he would sit for hours and watch the ducks enjoying it,” recalls Jacobs.

“Madiba refused to sleep in the huge main bedroom because he said he was used to his small prison cell. He was a humble man who did not care much for material things.”

I am inspired indeed.

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