In South Africa and across the world, the life of Nelson Mandela is being honored and those who had the opportunity to meet Mandela are sharing memories.
Las Cruces resident, Delano Lewis was appointed and served as U.S. Ambassador to South Africa from 1999 through 2001. Ambassador Lewis had the opportunity to meet Nelson Mandela in early 2000 shortly after his arrival to South Africa.
“My first impressions where he was such a giant of a person,” said Lewis. “He was not only tall and elegant, and carried himself so well, but he was also very humble.”
According to the Ambassador, it was Mandela’s commitment to bringing South Africa together, along with his willingness to forgive, and his efforts to establish an inclusive government that he found impressive.
Ambassador Lewis mentioned that he had a distinct memory of Nelson Mandela welcoming his family into his home office in Johannesburg after a short business visit where Mandela told the Ambassador’s grandchildren that they had an important grandfather.
“I was just floored. Nelson Mandela was saying that I was important,” said Lewis. “He just embraced us, and embraced our family, so that was a very distinct memory.”
Lewis also recalled his farewell visit to Nelson Mandela, where the former South African president and Anti-Apartheid leader signed copies of his book “Long Walk To Freedom” with personal messages to each of the ambassador’s sons.