The little girl who stole the heart of a mighty statesman
IT WAS HER adorable little doctor’s outfit that stole the hearts of many including the media. Cameras clicked and she looked on clutching a packet of crisps in her hand.
That was five years ago when Michai’ah Simons, then 23 months old, sat on Nelson Mandela’s lap at the tree planting ceremony of the Nelson Mandela’s Children’s Hospital.
Yesterday her mother Alison broke the news to the now sixyear-old girl that her hero was no more.
“She was a bit unsettled when she heard the news. But her mother reassured her that Tata is now in a better place where he can rest in peace. Where he can no longer experience hardship,” said her father, Kevin Simons.
He shared the story of how her daughter landed up by Mandela’s side.
His mother in-law had been asked to prepare the function for the planting of the tree to celebrate the planned hospital.
Various children had been invited to mark the momentous occasion.
“The organisers were giving out doctor’s outfits to the kids. My wife happened to pick this specific one for Michai’ah. Someone took her and placed her on Madiba’s lap.”
Today the family has placed the picture in most of the rooms in their house. They have also cut newspaper clips.
“We feel honoured as her parents that at a young age she has learnt a great deal about Mandela. She now knows that she has to take his legacy forward,” her father said.
Michai’ah said: “He freed us from apartheid. I’m going to miss him. I am happy that I met him.”
‘GREAT HONOUR’: Talk-show host Oprah Winfrey with Nelson Mandela from an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show that originally aired in 200. Winfrey posted a photo of her and Mandela to Instagram and said one of the great honours of her life was to be invited to Mandela’s home.