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David and me




My father, Arthur Goldreich, was a designer and an artist of some regard and repute; my mother was a nursery school teacher. I had an older brother, Nick, and I was known as either “Pape” or “naughty boy” by Mandela, whom I knew as David.

We moved to Liliesleaf farm in 1961. In July 1963, the farm was raided by the South African security services and the ANC high command, including my parents, was swept away and imprisoned. Until that moment, Liliesleaf served as an idyll for our family, and at times for the Mandela family too. Madiba described Liliesleaf in 2005 as unique and “significant because it was a place of intellectual, ideological, strategic military discourse and engagement”.

Of course, to me and my brother Nick, David and his wife, Winnie, and their children were nothing other than friends and accomplices in our vast and exciting world. David was always on call to us, other than the times when he was surprisingly meeting with my father and other grownups, both white and black. He seemed to carry himself in a way that led the other men and women to treat him as if he were the boss of the farm.

There were times when I heard him shout, and other times when I heard him laugh with the other people on the farm.

There were very special moments we spent with David alone without any other grownups. In the afternoons after school, he would take us away from the farmhouse, walking through the fields and down to the river at the bottom of the farm. He always carried a rifle with him, and we would spend what seemed like hours trying to shoot snakes and other bothersome animals. He taught us lots about animals, particularly snakes, which he didn’t like. He told us about his childhood, and the hunting he did with his friends.

On one occasion, he stood with my mother and me under one of the many trees in the garden, and raised his rifle to his shoulder and pulled the trigger. The pellet hit a little bird in the tree, and it fell to the ground. I was very upset, and chastised him for his actions. I said, “David you shouldn’t have shot that bird. Its mother will be very sad”. At the time he laughed, and then tried to comfort me.

I was very angry with David, but it didn’t last long. He was so kind to me, and played so many games with me. He was a wonderful friend and then on one day, Nick and David’s son, Makgatho, were routing through some magazines in the lounge and they found a magazine called Drum with David’s picture on the front. They showed me, and I was speechless. It said his name wasn’t David, but someone called Nelson Mandela. They took it to David/Nelson, and he took Nick and Makgatho for a walk, and when they came back, they seemed to have suddenly become much more grown up.

  • Paul Goldreich is the son of Arthur Goldreich, and artist and designer who was in the leadership of the ANC’s armed wing, uMkhonto we Sizwe, arrested at Liliesleaf Farm in 1963. Paul is a Jungian psychoanalyst working with trauma survivors.

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