'Scaling' a wall to see hero Nelson Mandela

Published: Friday | December 6, 2013 Comments 0


In 1991, Nelson Mandela made a historic visit to Jamaica, a year after his release from 27 years of imprisonment.

At the time, I was a member of the Jamaica national youth cricket squad preparing for the annual regional competition. As is customary, the squad was in residency at the Jamaica Defence Force headquarters at Up Park Camp.

Camp rules prohibited us from leaving the compound, and breaking that rule risked the penalty of being sent home. However, I was determined that I could not miss seeing Mandela in person, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Mandela was scheduled to speak at the National Stadium. I made my way inside the Up Park Camp compound to the boundary wall on Arthur Wint Drive, close to the Bustamante Hospital for Children. I 'scaled' that wall and walked up to the stadium.

The stadium was packed to capacity as Jamaicans from all walks of life were determined to see their anti-apartheid hero.

I weaved my way through a thick crowd and got inside the stadium. The atmosphere was electrifying as Winnie and Nelson made their way around the cycle track in their open-top motor car.

I got to see my hero in person - for the first and only time.


MP, St Andrew South Eastern

Junior Minister, STEM


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