The Red Car Madiba Loved

As the late president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, there are a few things we know about the great South African leader Mr. Nelson Mandela, known as Madiba.

We know that he was born in the Transkei on 18 July 1918 with the name Rolihlahla Mandela. We know that he was a civil rights activist, anti-apartheid revolutionary, philanthropist, author, and Nobel Prize winner. But did you know that Nelson Mandela loved cars?

The most noteworthy of cars that he owned in his life was one that was presented to him as a gift shortly after his release from 27 years of prisonment.

When the news of his release was announced, there was much excitement, but then the question was asked, “What now?” This was the start of how one man named Philip Groom and a group of workers at the Mercedes-Benz factory in East London were inspired to pay tribute to a man who fought selflessly for freedom for the South African people.

They decided to present Mandela with a gift. That gift was a car made with parts donated by Mercedes-Benz by the factory workers in their own time with their own hands. To them, the car was symbolic of the nation united, brought together by Madiba, all moving forward as one. It embodied the pride they take in their craft, and reflects the pride they feel for the great man.

The car was to be presented by the workers and NUMSA (National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa). When Mandela received the bright red W126 S-Class Mercedes-Benz, he said that the colour would not only remind him of NUMSA’s colours, but also of the blood that was spilled by many South Africans of all colours in the fight for peace and freedom and the end to apartheid in South Africa.

This was a car Madiba loved because it was made with the labour of love. It now lives in the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. Watch the heart-warming video:

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