Tony Yengeni

Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory


  • Title: Tony Yengeni
  • Story: 1999 I'm quite honored to be participating in the 'My moment with a legend project'. The picture showing mef standing behind Mr Mandela was  taken in the National Assembly during a session of the house. I do not recall the specific item on the agenda of the house that we were all applauding. I was sitting behind Mr Mandela in the picture because that is where I normally sat during sessions of the National Assembly. I was sitting there also in my capacity as the Chief Whip of the majority party, the African National Congress. The main reason why the Chief Whip sits behind the President is to be able to advise the President and guide him on the various procedures and items on the agenda of the house. It is also meant to ensure easy access to the Chief Whip in the event the President requires assistance. There are various personalities that appear in the picture the first of whom is President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela himself and sitting on his right is the then deputy President Mr Thabo Mbeki and a number of ANC MPs, ministers and deputy ministers. It is a matter of great pride and honour for me to have acted as Chief Whip of the majority Party during Mr Mandela's Presidency. For all my time as Chief Whip I worked very closely with Mr Mandela and his office and it was a great pleasure and marvel to work with this great icon. As a leader Mr Mandela was firm, straight forward, principled but humble. I vividly remember one day when he admonished me for having done something that he considered wrong in front of more 500 members of the ANC caucus. I never responded to his criticism at that point. I called a meeting of my study group to explain myself to him. It is only then that he realised that as a matter of fact that I was in the right. And the moment he realised this, he immediately apologised to me and the study group and vowed that the following Thursday he was going back to caucus to apologise to them too. We accepted his apology and  thanked him for his humility and understanding and pleaded with him not to go to caucus again because his apology to us was enough. He refused and the following Thursday he appeared in caucus as promised and addressed the meeting and apologised to them and us.
  • Quote: "Such was the humility and availability of Mr. Mandela to all his coMr.ades young and old, junior and senior."
  • Type: Photo
  • Original Source: To download a photograph click here
  • Collection: Moments with a Legend


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