Norwich man recalls his meeting with Nelson Mandela

Umar Bryce, who met Nelson Mandela.

Umar Bryce, who met Nelson Mandela.

A Norwich man has recalled the excitement of meeting anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela when he visited his school to watch his grandson take part in a play.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela

Former South African President Nelson Mandela - Credit: PA

Umar Bryce, 30, a sales representative, was only eight or nine when he met the former President of South Africa, who died on Thursday aged 95.

The politician, who was president from 1994 to 1999, visited his school, the Sacred Heart College in Johannesburg in the early 1990s to watch his grandson Ndaba participate in Alice in Wonderland.

Mr Bryce, who works for Archant Norfolk, had moved to South Africa with his family because his father Kelvin was the road manager for the singer songwriter Cat Stevens and the family, who are of mixed-race heritage, wanted to make a statement opposing the apartheid regime.

He remembered Mandela arriving with an entourage, including other leaders of his party the African National Congress, in a red Mercedes with windscreen wipers on the headlamps, which he found quite unusual.

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'I remember shaking his hand and he had a really big, soft hand and he was constantly smiling, but the main thing was the furore surrounding his visit and everybody was sitting on the edge of their seats in anticipation of his arrival.

'Obviously, his grandson went to the school so he took the opportunity to do the grandfatherly thing and watch him take part in Alice in Wonderland,' Mr Bryce added.

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He also remembered the joy that erupted when Mandela was released from prison after spending 27 years in incarceration, with people singing and dancing down the road after the news broke.

Mr Bryce now lives in St Stephens Street in Norwich after also spending time living in the Scottish highlands, as well as South Africa.

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