This week I went to the Mandela Lecture at the Wanderers stadium in Johannesburg. The lecture was given by former American President Barack Obama. Everyone in South Africa tried to get tickets and we were lucky because my mum got us tickets to the event because she knew someone at the Nelson Mandela Foundation. At first it was difficult to get my ticket because they needed my ID but because I’m only 10 I can’t have an ID book yet. We tried to get my ticket for about a week. They said that I could use my birth certificate to get my ticket but at first, that didn’t work. But eventually my mother got it to work with her superpowers.
Everyone said there would be a lot of security in order to protect Barack Obama – in case someone tried to assassinate him or something – so me and my parents left early for the stadium. I had the day off school to make sure that we got there on time. The journey was about an hour and a half because there was lots of traffic. Eventually we arrived. We had to find parking which was very hard because everyone was going to the event. But we found a spot.
We had to go through a lot of security. At each checkpoint we had to show our tickets and our identity documents. My dad had to put his bag through an x-ray. Finally we got to the last check point and we were rewarded by getting into the stadium where the workers gave us a blanket, a booklet and a voucher for a drink.
We went in and found our seats on the field. And I saw a sign that showed all of the people who had given the lectures since 2003. The stadium was enormous. Me and my mum were waiting for about an hour and a half while my father went off and was trying to get food. The sun shone and shone. We each put our booklets on our heads like hats. We began to think my dad had got lost or had found someone to talk to and forgotten us! But then he came back which was just before the lecture was about to start he said he had been in the line for food the whole time.
My mum was asked by 702 to do an interview about the lecture so she had to go upstairs to the top of the stadium. Me and my dad were waiting on the field without her until eventually the lecture started. And she still wasn’t back! The President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, Mrs Graca Machel (who was Nelson Mandela’s wife) and Barack Obama came onto the stage. A choir arrived on stage and we all sang the national anthem. I felt proud to be a South African.
First, Mrs Machel gave her speech and told interesting stories about Nelson Mandela and I felt very sorry for her. Then Cyril Ramaphosa came on and gave his speech. He spoke about fighting corruption and he said ‘Thuma Mina’ which means send me in Zulu and when he says it he means that we all need to work and help each other to make South Africa a brilliant country with no corruption. Still my mother was not back! It was only towards the end point of Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech that my mother came from her interview and sat down. At the end of his speech our president made a joke that Nelson Mandela was like Barack Obama in many ways but Mandela could dance and Obama can’t. Everyone laughed but then it was Barrack’s turn to speak. He started by saying “correction, I can dance but definitely not as well as my wife”. He also told us that he had got his geography wrong and forgotten that South Africa was in the winter at the moment. He said that he had sent someone to the shop to buy him long johns to wear under his suit.
Obama spoke about how children are the future of our nation. He said that he was influenced by Nelson Mandela when he was young and that he tried to live up to Nelson Mandela’s legacy. He said that children needed to be taught how to think clearly and understand that facts are real and need to be respected. He said we could all change the world and make it better. When the lecture was over the choir who sang the national anthem came on and sang another song and everyone pushed out of the stadium.
Eventually we made it to the car but it took a while because everyone was leaving at the same time. And my dad found a friend on the road so he walked quite slowly as they talked. By the time we got to the car it was very dark but luckily we had a room at the Palazzo Hotel in Montecasino. It was so nice not to have to drive home in the cold and the dark. I had once gone with my mum to the Palazzo when she went to a meeting but I had never stayed there Palazzo. It looked very grand and I was really pleased. There were chandeliers and a doorman in a top hat. They even gave my dad a glass of wine when we arrived!In the room we found small lemon mering pies.
Once we had got settled in my dad took me to the arcade at Montecasino. I love that arcade so much. Its full of games which is my territory so I feel at home there. I played a number of games. My favourites were The Walking Dead, Jurassic Park and Dance Dance Revolution. The fancier games are my best but I also played a few classics that I used to love when I was littler – such as Stomping Spider and Wackygator. I had a lot of fun although I didn’t win much of anything.
When I had had enough me and my dad came back to the hotel. I had a bath and then me and my parents ordered room service.
I love room service sooooooooooooo much. I chose a beef burger with cheddar cheese on it and big fat chips. For dessert I had a malva pudding with vanilla ice cream. Room service in my opinion is the best part of staying in a hotel. It makes me feel like a king. I like to sit in bed while I have my supper and watch tv. So that is what we did. My mum turned on our favourite show on BBC lifestyle – Come Dine with Me followed by Top Gear. And a burger. Heaven.
So then we went to sleep. I had a very pleasant sleep but we meant to wake up early so we could get my dad to work and me to school. But we over slept! We meant to have a quick breakfast in the hotel but it was so nice that it wasn’t that quick. There was a man playing the piano while we had our breakfast. More heaven. I had sausages and potatoes and bacon and orange juice and hot chocolate.
My mum had salmon and capers and rye bread. My dad had a bit of everything. We all wished we could stay for more days. I took a muffin and a croissant for my lunch and off I went to school.
It was a lovely day and night. We got to be proud about being from the country that made Nelson Mandela. We got to have a lucky treat in a hotel. I got to eat malva pudding in bed. I love all hotels but the Palazzo is now my favourite in Johannesburg. I would recommend going there to anyone who loves room service and chandeliers and pianos at breakfast. Surely everyone loves those things.
Palazzo Hotel, Montecasino Boulevard, Montecasino, Fourways, Johannesburg. 011 510 3000