News / Africa

    Mandela a Rare Leader, Former White Bodyguard says

    Spectators shelter under umbrellas as the rain lashes down during the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 10, 2013.
    Spectators shelter under umbrellas as the rain lashes down during the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 10, 2013.
    As tens of thousands of people from South Africa and the world gathered in Johannesburg on Tuesday at the memorial service for the late former South African President Nelson Mandela, those who were close to the world icon have described him as a rare, unique and principled leader.

    The 94,000 seat FNB stadium in Johannesburg was filled Tuesday to honor former Mandela, who died at the age of 95 on December 5.


    • People cheer as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the FNB Stadium during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
    • U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the crowd during a memorial service for Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
    • A man holds a placard with an image of Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium during a national memorial service, Dec. 10, 2013.
    • Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Nelson Mandela's former wife, listens to speeches during his memorial service at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
    • A portrait of Nelson Mandela is seen through a sea of umbrellas during his memorial service at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
    • Actress Charlize Theron speaks with musician Bono before the memorial service for Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
    • People sing and dance as they arrive for the memorial service for Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.

    While speakers showered the anti-apartheid hero with praise for his public service to South Africa and his example for the world, one man has very personal remembrances of the man up close.

    Rory Steyn was tasked with guarding Madiba’s life when he became the first black president of the democratic South Africa. 

    “Many people ask me the question, how did I as a white officer come to be the team leader of Madiba’s protection. Well it was really because I was the commander of the VIP, it was being in the right place at the right time for whatever reason," he said.

    He said his experience of guarding Mandela 24 hours a day made him realize one thing:  that the man was a rare, unique and principled leader. He said he felt deeply privileged.

    “I have never considered Mandela to be a politician, first and foremost I have always thought of him to be a statesman,” said the former bodyguard.

    Steyn said Mandela’s tolerance of diverse and opposing views made him a lovable president.

    “He didn’t want to have a bunch of 'yes men' following somebody’s view point and that view point only….It was a pleasure to work for him, all of us black and white loved working for him, he was considerate,” he said.

    • Nelson Mandela smiles for photographers at his home in Johannesburg September 22, 2005.
    • Nelson Mandela and his then wife, Winnie, salute well-wishers as he leaves Victor Verster prison on Feb. 11, 1990.
    • This undated photograph shows Nelson Mandela and his former wife, Winnie.
    • South African State President Frederik Willem de Klerk and Deputy President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela prior to talks, Cape Town, May 2, 1990.
    • Nelson Mandela, is seen as he gives the black power salute to 120,000 ANC supporters in Soweto's Soccer City stadium, Feb. 13, 1990.
    • Then-African National Congress President Nelson Mandela salutes the crowd in Galeshewe Stadium near Kimberley, South Africa, Feb. 25, 1994.
    • Nelson Mandela and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II ride in a carriage outside Buckingham Palace on the first day of a state visit to Britain, July 9, 1996.
    • President Nelson Mandela and Britain's Prince Charles shake hands alongside members of the Spice Girls, Nov. 1, 1997.
    • Former U.S President Bill Clinton and former South African President Nelson Mandela speak during a Gala night in Westminster Hall, London, July 2, 2003.
    • Oscar winning South African actress Charlize Theron weeps at her meeting with former South African President Nelson Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, March 11,2004.
    • Nelson Mandela and his wife, Graca Machel, wave to the audience during a Live 8 concert in Johannesburg, July 2, 2005.
    • Nelson Mandela jokes with youngsters as they celebrate his 89th birthday at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in Johannesburg, July 24, 2007.
    • Former South African president Nelson Mandela, center, followed by his grandson Mandla Mandela, rear right, arrives at the ceremony in Mvezo, South Africa, April 16, 2007.
    • Nelson Mandela waves to the media as he arrives outside 10 Downing Street, London, August 28, 2007.
    • Nelson Mandela waves as he arrives to attend the 2010 World Cup football final Netherlands vs. Spain on July 11, 2010 at Soccer City stadium in Soweto.
    • Nelson Mandela poses for a photograph after receiving a torch to celebrate the African National Congress' centenary in his home village Qunu, May 30, 2012.

    Steyn noted Mandela was truly interested in people - not the power of office.

    “He quietly enjoyed interacting with people like that, I think he sometimes got a little bit tired of the routine of the formality of being a head of state. …I have never seen or met anybody, any other human being who is more comfortable in his own skin, comfortable with who he is,” he said.

    Steyn said working for Mandela taught him great lessons he would always value.

    “I have tried to learn from him that you don’t need money, you don’t need things, you don’t need position or power to be content and to be happy,” he said.

    Steyn said he had no doubt that if all South Africans took up the legacy left by Nelson Mandela, the nation would be counted amongst the greatest in the world.

    You May Like

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, the history of take-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora