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Nelson Mandela’s lesson in racism c1958

During the 1950s my parents, who were anti-apartheid activists, knew Nelson Mandela. I remember the story he told them about the occasion he saw a white woman standing next to her broken car in Johannesburg. He approached her and offered to help. After fiddling with the engine he fixed the car. Thankful for his help, she offered to pay him sixpence.

“Oh no, that’s not necessary,” he said, “I am only too happy to help.”

“But why else would you, a black man, have done that if you did not want money?” she asked quizzically.

“Because you were stranded at the side of the road,” he replied.

Nelson Mandela acted in a charitable way while simultaneously making the woman aware of her own racism.  It is a story I will never forget. He gave so much, in so many ways.

Here are some of my photos from the 1970s, during the time of rising dissent against apartheid.



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