I can still recall clearly how I met a man whose life continues to influence South Africa and the rest of the world. It was in 1990 when I started my own company specializing in sales training. One client, The Broadcast Corporation of the Bahamas asked me to come to the Bahamas to conduct a five-day seminar. On the first day, I was informed that our training schedule was going to be delayed because Nelson Mandela was coming to the island for a visit. The radio and TV news anchor, who was also my host and guide, was apologetic for the interruption but asked if I wanted to attend Mandela’s welcoming ceremony that would broadcast live.

I accepted her offer and I went.

The opportunity to see, let alone meet Nelson Mandela, was a dream come true. His arrival in the Bahamas came three years after his Yankee Stadium celebration and one year before he was elected president of South Africa.

As he made his way through the crowd, we shook hands and spoke briefly as he proceeded to the podium. There was power and grace in his smile and his movement.  He had such a pleasant and authentic aura.

I will never forget the genuineness I felt when he said, “I am pleased to meet you.” I was more than pleased to meet him too.

For the remainder of the morning, I had the great pleasure of being the only photographer covering this momentous event.

Today, his long walk to freedom still lives on.

Happy Birthday Mandela.

18/07/1918 – 03/12/2013