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  Mandela's Robben Island jailer describes their unlikely friendship, praises his success

  He was with Nelson Mandela during all those years the anti-apartheid icon was imprisoned on Robben Island. And, like millions around the world, he has been hit hard by Mandela's death.

  Yet this South African was not one of Mandela's fellow prisoners. Christo Brand was his jailer.

  The two men the black political prisoner and the white Afrikaans warden forged an unlikely but enduring friendship.

  They last met about two years ago when Brand, now in his 50s, brought his wife, son and grandson to see Mandela in Cape Town in a Sunday afternoon visit that lasted nearly three hours.

  They had nice chats about the past, about his family. He wanted to pick up my grandchild, to hold him, which he was a little bit shy to go to him. You could see he really reached out for touching a child at that moment, Brand recalled.

  When I got the message when he passed away, it was very sad for me, Brand told The Associated Press on Saturday. But I think he was successful and he did what he wanted to do. I wanted him to go in peace and I am thinking of the family today, what they go through.

  Brand started to work on Robben Island in 1978 when he was 18 and Mandela was 60. Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison on Robben Island.

  Eventually Brand grew to like Mandela and smuggled in special treats like bread and Mandela's favorite hair pomade. Brand even sneaked in Mandela's infant granddaughter so that the prisoner could hold her.

  For his part, Mandela encouraged Brand to continue his education and maintained an interest in him and his family.

  Years later, when Mandela was president, he took special care to single out Brand for recognition while Brand was a lowly civil servant while South Africa's new constitution was being drafted. Mandela flew in by helicopter and entered the room where members of parliament were debating the new constitution, said Brand.

  Mandela went around the room shaking hands with parliamentarians but when he saw Brand, who was distributing documents, Mandela lifted his arms and warmly greeted him.

  He immediately made a big announcement to everyone: 'You know who is this person? This person was my warden, this person was my friend.' Brand said he felt very humble and proud at that moment. After that when the parliamentarians went out for a group photo, Mandela insisted that Brand be in the photo. He said 'No, no. You must stand next to me, we belong together.'

  Brand once again works on Robben Island which is no longer a prison but a bustling tourist attraction. He and other former guards and prisoners tell visitors about the new South Africa's racial reconciliation.

  Brand said he shared a joke with Mandela about his final resting place.

  I say to Mandela that we must bury you on Robben Island. Then he just laughed. He said 'Why? For tourist attraction?' He said 'You should have made money. But I think I must go to Qunu.' That was him making a joke.

  当地时间12月5日,南非首任黑人总统纳尔逊 曼德拉因肺部感染去世,举世哀悼。据美国媒体12月7日报道,曼德拉昔日在罗本岛的看守、陪他熬过漫漫铁窗生涯的克里斯托 布兰德近日动情回忆了两人之间的交情。看似水火不相容的黑人政治犯和白人狱警缔结了一段感人的忘年交。

  曼德拉和布兰德最后一次见面是2年前一个周日的下午,现年50多岁的布兰德当时带着妻子、儿子和孙子去开普敦看望了曼德拉,聊了近3个小时。布兰德回忆说: (我们)当时愉快地聊着往事,聊他的家庭。他想抱抱我的孙子,但孩子有点害羞不敢靠近他。他伸出手抚摸了一下孩子。

  我得到他去世的消息后感到很难过, 布兰德7日告诉美联社, 但我想他的人生是成功的,他做了自己想做的事情。我希望他走得安详,我在想曼德拉的家人该怎么熬过这一关。

  在曼德拉27年的铁窗生涯中,有18年是在罗本岛上度过的。布兰德1978年开始在罗本岛工作,那时他18岁,曼德拉60岁。曼德拉的人格魅力感化了这位狱警,布兰德越来越喜欢曼德拉,并偷偷给他 特殊待遇 ,比如给他带来面包和他最喜欢的润发油。布兰德甚至将曼德拉尚是婴儿的小孙女悄悄带进监狱,让他得以享受天伦之乐。


  多年后曼德拉成了南非总统,而布兰德则是国会里一个默默无名的公务员。有一次布兰德去参加国会起草南非新宪法的会议,曼德拉也乘直升机前来参会,曼德拉在和议员握手问好时看到了正在分发文件的他。 他立即向房间里的每个人宣告: 你们知道这个人是谁吗?他曾经是我的狱警,也是我的朋友。 布兰德回忆说。议员和曼德拉合影时,曼德拉坚持让布兰德也过来合影。布兰德站到了一边,曼德拉说: 不,不,你要站在我旁边,我们是一起的。

  布兰德回忆说,他曾经和曼德拉开了个玩笑。 我对曼德拉说,你死后我们必须把你安葬在罗本岛。他只是笑了笑说: 为什么?吸引游客? 他说: 那样你应该可以赚很多钱,但我想我必须得回古努(曼德拉故乡)。 他就是这样和我开玩笑的。