Nelson Mandela's former prison guard speaks at Charlotte school

A South African prison guard who watched over Nelson Mandela for more than 10 years is now sharing his story with students at Providence Day School.

Christo Brand explained how he guarded the iconic freedom fighter during his time at Robben Island, a maximum security prison.

“When I looked after him in prison, I never thought Mandela was that great big person. I was just believing that he is a leader for his people,” he said.

With a thick South-African accent and a captivating story to tell, students sat amazed in the theatre room. Filling all the seats and some sitting on their aisles just to hear the account.

He says at the time he didn’t know the famous inmate would go on to become a revolutionary leader, demanding the end of apartheid.

Providence Day students enjoyed learning about Mandela through someone who knew him very well.

“Sticking with his views all that time in prison. Because, they tried to break him in prison and he just went through all those hardships,” he said.

Brand says he wants to continue sharing Mandela’s legacy with others so that it can continue to live on.

“When I saw the coffin go down, I was sad but also happy because I feel he had fulfilled his life,” the former prison guard said.

The students at Providence Day School also recently travelled to South Africa to learn about the country’s history and to take part in philanthropic work.