Denise September

Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory


  • Title: Denise September
  • Date: 1996-01-01
  • Story: 1996 I remember that phenomenal day as if it was yesterday. The day was 1 May 1996, and Madiba was visiting Hanover Park Day Hospital, my workplace. As one of the staff members who was involved in the preparations for the day, I was feverishly rushing about trying to get everything organized and perfect for the visit. Everything was in place, when I discovered there was no stage for Madiba to stand on. I rushed to the doctor’s rooms, to collect steps they use in front on their beds for patients to step on. I then proceeded to build a mini-stage from these steps and stood back to admire my handiwork, when I felt a severe pain across my neck. The pain was so bad, worse than childbirth, I thought in my mind, but not wanting to miss the legendary man’s visit, I quickly rushed to the trauma unit and asked for help. After the sugar water, prayer and injection and more prayer, the pain still remained and worsened. The decision was finally made, that I remain in the trauma laying down and miss Madiba’s visit, but this brought on such vehement protest in my mind and I told them that no stone will be left unturned, but that I will see Madiba that day, even if they had to push me in a wheelchair. This was the opportunity of a lifetime and one that I was not going to miss for anything in the world. He finally arrived and our excitement knew no bounds. Me, with a painful neck, which I had half forgotten about in all the hype and excitement, pressed forward through the crowd, not wanting my special turn to be missed. Eventually it happened –  I was one of the last of the staff members Madiba greeted, but as he put out his hand, I grabbed him and hugged him close for a long, long moment. I heard the other staff call my name as if from afar and tell me to let go, but I thought to myself, this is my moment and I am going to make it last.
  • Quote: "I would see Madiba that day – even if they had to push me in a wheelchair."
  • Type: Photo
  • Original Source: To download a photograph click here
  • Collection: Moments with a Legend

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