Wales Millennium Centre remembers Mandela’s Cardiff visit

June 14, 2012 No Comments »

The Wales Millennium Centre is set to welcome a musical tribute to the life of Nelson Mandela with a special project looking back at his 1998 visit to Cardiff.

WMC will host performances by the Cape Town Opera next week, and is the chosen venue for the European premiere of the company’s Mandela Trilogy – a musical tribute to the life of the now 93-year-old former South African president.

To mark the occasion, WMC is appealing for people to share their stories, memories, and photographs of Mandela’s visit to Cardiff in 1998, where he was given the Freedom of the City.

Mandela visited the Welsh capital on June 16 1998 on the final day of a European Summit. Thousands of people gathered in the grounds of Cardiff Castle to see him being given the Freedom, with the President taking time to greet people, shake their hands and sing and dance with some of the city’s school children.

Choir member John Wilkins was one of those who performed for Mandela that day with the Cardiff Ardwyn Singers.

He said: “1998 was a memorable year for the Cardiff Ardwyn Singers. During April the choir toured South Africa and included was a visit to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was unjustly imprisoned for 18 years. There we saw his small cell where a blanket on the concrete floor was his bed and a bucket was his toilet. On our return to Cardiff we were invited to sing at Cardiff Castle when he received the Freedom of the City. We performed African songs and Nelson Mandela smiled and danced to the music. He was introduced to us and expressed his delight at hearing songs that were so familiar.”

Wales Millennium Centre is asking for anyone with memories of Mandela’s visit to Cardiff to share their stories, like John, by e-mailing them to, posting them on Wales Millennium Centre’s Facebook page or Tweeting them to @theCentre and tagging them #mandela3.

The best stories will be projected on to the wall overlooking the Glanfa Stage at the WMC on the opening night of the Mandela Trilogy on June 20, and contributors of the best recollections will also be invited to the première.

Cape Town Opera will perform The Mandela Trilogy at WMC on June 20 and 21. Directed by Michael Williams with music by Allan Stephenson, Mike Campbell and Peter Louis van Dijk, it dramatises key points in Mandela’s life using different musical styles.

Cape Town Opera will also perform Porgy & Bess on June 23 and 24. Tickets for both shows are available here.

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